Emergency drill feedback positive

Organisers of a simulated emergency mass casualty drill that took place 10 March say there are good reasons for optimism heading into hurricane season.

emergency drill

Emergency service agencies respond to a mock airplane crash near Spotts Dock earlier this month.
Photo: James Dimond

Leaders from all agencies involved in the drill met 13 March to nut out what had gone right and what needed improving.

Director of Hazard Management Cayman Islands, Barbara Carby, said the feedback was generally positive.

She was particularly pleased to see communications between agencies had improved compared to a similar drill in early 2007.

‘We are already seeing, from one exercise to another, emergency coordination improve,’ Ms Carby said.

In the fake mass-casualty exercise, emergency crews responded to reports that a small jet carrying 30 people and 10 gallons of the hazardous chemical formaldehyde had gone down in the vicinity of the Spotts Dock.

As well as helping hone emergency response capabilities, the drill allowed HMCI to test run a new emergency management communications software system – called Web Emergency Operations centre, or WebEOC.

WebEOC is a web-based information management system that provides a single access point for the collection and dissemination of emergency information.

‘It’s a good tool to use because it will allow multiple access, so many people can get on and see what is going on,’ explained Ms Carby. ‘You don’t necessarily have to depend on calling everyone together for them to know what is going on.’

In time, emergency response agencies such as the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service and the Cayman Islands Fire Department will be able to use the system for smaller scale incidents, such as fires and car crashes, she explained.

‘We will then widen it to agencies that do not have an immediate emergency response function but who participate in a response,’ she said.

It is thought to be the first time the system has been used in the Caribbean, although it is in use in other countries, including parts of the US.

The next test for emergency responders will be in May, when the annual national hurricane exercise takes place.

‘These exercises are designed to test your procedures so one can be sure that the best possible procedures are in place and that they do work,’ said Ms Carby.

‘Then, when the real incident comes, you can mount the best response possible.’

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