The Cayman Islands government has acknowledged it is still missing some 19 emergency radios held by its hazard management unit following a memorandum more than two years ago that indicated some 49 hand held radios had disappeared.
The initial revelation about the missing radios was made in a 3 October, 2008, memo from former National Emergency Operations Centre Deputy Director Don Druitt. In the document, sent to former Hazard Management Cayman Islands Director Barbara Carby, Mr. Druitt noted that various inventories of emergency communications radios indicated a total of 49 devices had gone missing.
“I would also like to point out that the dollar amount for the aforementioned ‘missing’ 49 radios is potentially well over $125,000 CI dollars,” Mr. Druitt wrote.
On Tuesday, Hazard Management Cayman Islands officials said less than half of that number was still missing from inventory.
“HMCI can now confirm that there are 19 missing radios out of a compliment of 199,” read a statement from the department.
The previous Thursday, Hazard Management Director McCleary Frederick sent out an alert on the civil service messages system about the radios.
“In an effort to update our records, all persons who are in possession of an HMCI radio are requested [to] provide us with the serial number by e-mailing it to [address withheld] by close of business [Friday],” Mr. Frederick wrote.
The Caymanian Compass had contacted HMCI the previous day – Wednesday – about the missing radios and the 2008 memo sent by Mr. Druitt.
According to the department, some 14 people within government responded that they were in possession of emergency radios between Thursday, 30 December and Tuesday. Staff at Hazard Management Cayman Islands has previously indicated that the emergency radios are usually handed out prior to the onset, during or just after a major incident, such as a hurricane. They are used as an immediate method of communication between various government departments.
“Various individuals keep a radio on their the desk or in their possession at all times in case of a rapid onset event,” said HMCI’s Simon Boxall. “For example, it is possible that distribution may be a challenge in the aftermath of an earthquake.”
The Compass contacted Mr. Druitt, who now runs a county emergency operations unit in Georgia, USA, about the memo. He confirmed he penned the 2008 document, and that – as far as he was aware – only a handful of the emergency radios had been returned roughly a year later when he left the Cayman Islands government service. HMCI offered no explanation for what might have occurred with the 19 missing radios in its response on Tuesday, although officials were still hopeful that a few more people in possession of the radios might respond after the holiday period.
In his 2008 memo, Mr. Druitt noted that there were apparently no guidelines relative to inventory existing at the time and asked department heads what he should do about eliminating missing radios from the inventory.
“Due to the absence of an existing HMCI asset management guideline, I am asking for clarification going forward relative to the radio inventory,” the October 2008 memo stated. “Since the original asset management list dated 13 October, 2007 has been modified (i.e. extraction of missing radios) and additional items have been identified as either no being listed or items listed on the asset management list have not been found…I would hope to garner further guidance from you.”
According to the memo, 19 radios from the HMCI inventory were initially listed as missing, and seven others were highlighted on the department’s inventory but not included on the missing list. Following a complete inventory in September 2008, an additional 23 radios “have not been found which were originally listed on the radio inventory list”, Mr. Druitt wrote.