Today’s Editorial for May 6: Include media

The start of Hurricane Season 2010
is just days away.

With that in mind the Cayman
Islands Government began a mock hurricane exercise Tuesday afternoon getting
ready for fictional Hurricane Dan. It continued throughout Wednesday.

This year’s exercise is important
because we had such a quiet season in 2009 that National Emergency Operations
Centre wasn’t activated and those charged with the responsibility of getting us
safely through a storm need a refresher course. Those new to the system also
need to be trained.

This year’s exercise is a tabletop
endeavour to familiarise and refresh everyone involved with the operations
centre, its functions and staffing; to review the Web Emergency Operations
Centre; to go over the standard operating procedures; and to ensure everyone is
familiar with their roles in managing a major hurricane impacting the Cayman
Islands.

This is all good stuff. However, as
in years past, one thing is definitely missing – inclusion of the media.

   We
commend the work that the men and women do at the operations centre and in the
various districts when we do have major weather bearing down on our Islands,
but part of their duty is to keep the public informed at all times of the
status of storms and their effect on us.

To do that, they need the media.

Each year these exercises are held
we lament the fact that the media is left out of the process.

If those who are making the
decisions that have a bearing on all us are familiarised with the way the media
works, we believe messages during storms could be much better communicated if
we were allowed to participate in the advance exercises.

The media was invited to go to the
centre at noon Wednesday for a photo opportunity and to ask questions, but the
centre was to be locked down again at 1pm.

That’s not good enough. The media
is fully expected to help the emergency committee get its message out during
times of disaster. It would help us and them if all media houses were allowed
to participate in the initial exercise. It’s for the good of us all.

In the event of a hurricane this
season the Caymanian Compass will keep readers updated through the daily paper
when possible and at all times at www.caycompass.com

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