Protocols and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to inform Federation’s Tsunami Readiness, to be developed

Basseterre, St. Kitts, February 14th, 2014 (NEMA) - An exercise to determine protocols related to Tsunami Readiness and Response is being planned for 17th and 18th, at NEMA Headquarters, Lime Kiln; and 19th and 20th, February, 2014, at the Nevis Disaster Management Agency, on Nevis.

In announcing plans for the event, National Disaster Coordinator (NDC), Carl Herbert has confirmed that St. Kitts and Nevis is to receive technical assistance from the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency’s Coordinating Unit (CDEMA CU) as part of the Caribbean’s continuing efforts to address Tsunami Readiness, through training and infrastructural development.

At a workshop organised by the International Tsunami Information Centre (ITIC) in collaboration with the IOC ICG/CARIBE-EWS Secretariat, the Caribbean Tsunami Information Centre (CTIC) and the Caribbean Tsunami Warning Programme (CTWP), in November 2013, a formal request to develop a Tsunami Protocol and SOPs was submitted to the CDEMA CU Roving Technical Support Team (RTST) by the NDC, in order to upgrade the Federation’s readiness to address a Tsunami related impact.

The primary objective of the workshop was to strengthen existing SOPs for Tsunami Warning and Emergency Response; and, to introduce the newly enhanced products for disseminating information on possible Tsunamis, in CDEMA Participating States.

SOPs are written, step-by-step procedures that manage quality control and assurance. They are the instructions that production units use in order to assure the accuracy and precision of their response, at all stages of an event.

“It is important,” Mr. Herbert says, “to develop such a plan, in order to clearly document roles and responsibilities of key agencies, in preparation for, response to and recovery from, a tsunami impact.”

CDEMA CU acknowledged the request and the technical support subsequently provided, was made possible via funding from the Comprehensive Disaster Management Harmonisation Implementation Programme (CDM HIP) RTST allocation. The RTST has been established under the CDM HIP to deepen relations with CDEMA Participating States, by way of provision of technical support in areas agreed to but not readily available via direct intervention from the Coordinating Unit.

Tsunamis are uncommon but have been documented since early civilisation, and because there can be little or no advance warning, they can be extremely devastating. Today, they continue to impact the world's coastlines, causing heavy loss of lives and damage to properties.

There have been at least two earthquakes recorded which resulted in deaths from tsunamis in the Caribbean Region since 1900, with the most destructive occurring in 1946 in the northern Caribbean, having been triggered by a magnitude 8.1 earthquake in the Dominican Republic. Around 1,800 people were killed as a result of that event. The other occurred within the CDEMA Participating States and struck in Kingston, Jamaica in 1907 killing approximately 500 people.

More recently, the devastation experienced across the globe following the Sumatran Tsunami in December of 2004, has forced emergency preparedness planners and governments alike, to add Tsunami hazards to their comprehensive disaster management approaches.

Currently, Ministry of Education and the St. Kitts-Nevis Red Cross Society are collaborating on a Schools Safety Programme with USAID/OFDA, involving the development of a disaster plan for schools and evacuation drills to test them. In 2010, a workshop to create an Earthquake Contingency Plan for the Federation, gave way to a public awareness programme that promotes actions that can save lives and protect property. That programme remains ongoing in local media, today.

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