The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) recently conducted a table-top simulation exercise called Restoration Island Cays over the period 18th through 21st May, 2021. The exercise was managed in hybrid mode, virtually and in person, from the recentlyb upgraded National Emergency Operations Centre at NEMA’s Headquarters, Gladstone Road. The exercise was supported by United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) and the Pacific Disaster Center. The RIC Exercise was designed to test the ability of NEMA and its partners to initiate disaster response and recovery activities in response to a category 5 hurricane that impacted multiple islands of The Bahamas, with its major impacts on the island of New Providence. All major government ministries and agencies were involved in the exercise, with the engagement of Family Administrators who are charged with responsibility for coordinating hurricane preparedness and response on islands that fall under their remit. During the exercise, participants faced challenging scenarios that required them to address complex problems, which simulated a real-world disaster. Participants were able to identify areas where they had confidence and observe areas that needed improvement. NEMA was also able to assess the overall ability of The Bahamas to respond to a catastrophic hurricane.
USNORTHCOM is the military organization in the U.S. that is responsible for coordinating the military portion of a response to major disasters. For Restoration Island Cays, experts from USNORTHCOM, who routinely conduct similar major exercises, were in The Bahamas to support Restoration Island Cays, serve as exercise controllers and provide simulation support.
“USNORTHCOM is committed to strong and enduring partnerships. We are proud to have been chosen to support this nationwide exercise for The Bahamas,” said U.S. Coast Guard Commander Chris Anderson, one of the exercise controllers. A representative from the Pacific Disaster Center (PDC) commented that “PDC values the unique partnership between The Bahamas and PDC and we were very happy to come back to The Bahamas this year to conduct the exercise”.
Scott Kuykendall, Exercise Lead and Disaster Management Specialist at PDC went on to say that the unique challenges that the Ministry and NEMA face due to geography, “will always be a challenge but being able to run a large-scale exercise like this helps us to identify areas where we can improve and makes us more prepared for the next storm.
“You cannot avoid hurricanes and you can never have a perfect response, but when I see the dedication of NEMA, the Family Island Administrators and the Ministry representatives in the National Emergency Operations Centre, I know that they are doing everything possible to keep the people of The Bahamas as safe as they can.”