LaRoda visits Senior Leaders Disaster Management Course

Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Disaster Risk Management and Emergency Response, the Hon. Myles K. LaRoda (front row, first left) with Senior Leaders from across the Government sector during a break in Day One of the two-day Senior Leaders Course. Also pictured (front row, second left) are: Lieutenant Colonel Linda Mansolillo (DIMO); Mr. Carl Smith, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Disaster Risk Reduction, and Mr. Alex Storr, Chairman, the Disaster Reconstruction Authority. Captain Stephen Russell, Director, the National Emergency Management Agency is pictured (second row) at left, along with participants and facilitators. (BIS Photo/Kemuel Stubbs)

Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Disaster Risk Management and Emergency Response, the Hon. Myles K. LaRoda, Tuesday met with Senior Leaders attending a Disaster Planning and Emergency Management Senior Leaders Course, held June 20-21 at the Office of the Prime Minister, Cable Beach.

The Course was facilitated by a Mobile Training Team from the Defense Institute for Medical Operations (DIMO), a joint security cooperation school for which the United States Air Force is the implementing agency. DIMO’s programmes strive to improve communications between military and civilian agencies, as well as strengthening international coalition partnerships and achieve theatre security.

Other partners included the U.S. Embassy, Nassau; the United States Northern Command (U.S.NORTHCOM), and the Rhode Island National Guard (R.I.N.G.)

The target audience comprised senior military, law enforcement, and civilian officials with roles in disaster planning and emergency response.

DIMO officials also conducted a Disaster Planning Basic Course over the June 12-16 period that was intended for national, regional and local disaster response practitioners and planners, including law enforcement, defence, security, fire, medical and rescue personnel.

The course combined core topics with practical exercises to improve the national inter-agency ability to prepare for natural and man-made disasters and to increase resiliency. Personnel from the National Emergency Management Agency, the Disaster Reconstruction Authority, the Department of Public Health, PHA Emergency Management Services, the Royal Bahamas Police Force and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force.  participated in the Disaster Planning Basic Course.

Both sessions were part of the “plethora of training programmes” aimed at ensuring that the country’s disaster risk managers and planners and emergency response teams are in a state of readiness for the 2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season State-Minister LaRoda spoke to during his Contribution to the 2023/24 Budget Debate in the House of Assembly, Tuesday.

“We engaged in a plethora of training programmes,” Mr. LaRoda stated.

Other opportunities included: The annual Restore Island Cays (RIC) Simulation Exercise which engaged Family Island Administrators and Chief Councilors from the islands of Abaco, Grand Bahama, Exuma, Cat Island, Acklins, Crooked Island and Mayaguana.

The exercise simulated the impact of a Category 5 Hurricane on the Bahamian archipelago to test preparedness arrangements (such as communication channels, reporting arrangements) and response mechanisms.  The RIC exercise was partially funded and facilitated by the United States Northern Command and the Pacific Disaster Center (PDC).

In collaboration with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), the United States Northern Command, the US Forestry Services and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) local disaster risk management officials were able to conduct:

  • A Damage Assessment and Needs Analysis Training for Marines of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force and personnel of the Ministry of Public Works & Utilities;
  • Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) training on Cat Island, Grand Bahama and New Providence; and
  • CPR and Introduction to Basic Wild Land Firefighting Training in New Providence for 40 participants from six Family Islands.

State-Minister LaRoda also briefed Parliament on a number of activities undertakenin preparation for the Hurricane Season.

“In preparation for the Hurricane Season, my Ministry, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the Disaster Reconstruction Authority (DRA) spearheaded a month of Disaster Preparedness activities that culminated with a Disaster Preparedness Exposition which was held at the Arawak Cay Festival Grounds on Saturday, May 27.

“These activities included appearances on radio and television programs by government and private entities who are engaged in the national effort of disaster preparedness and response. It also involved the dissemination of preparedness tips on social media. The entities who were involved included the Departments of Meteorology, Social Services, the Police Force, the Defence Force, the Ministry of Public Works, The Bahamas Red Cross, Insurance Companies, Telecommunications providers (Cable Bahamas, BTC) and others.

“I have provided some information on the wide range of activities that my Ministry, NEMA and the DRA have been engaged in to:

  • Underscore that Disaster Risk Management is a whole of government responsibility; indeed is a whole-of-society responsibility and there must be the engagement of all communities across the entire archipelago if it is to be effective;
  • Highlight that The Bahamas enjoys an excellent partnership with foreign Governments, regional and international organizations who have provided us with resources (both human and financial) to support us in our Disaster Risk Management programs; and
  • To allay fears/ concerns that entities may not be prepared for the 2023 hurricane season to effectively respond if the country impacted by a storm. We constantly encourage and assist our citizenry in taking hurricane preparedness seriously as too many appear not to take preparations seriously,” State-Minister LaRoda added.