ODPEM seeking to promote culture of earthquake preparedness

Friday, January 18, 2019

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) is looking to promote a culture of earthquake preparedness and response among Jamaicans.

“We want to (stir) the nation into action because earthquakes or tsunamis can occur at any time,” said Director General of the agency, Major Clive Davis.

“While we have no control…the bottom line is that we must now put provisions in place to ensure that when that comes upon us, we can effectively manage it,” he added, while addressing the recent launch of the Earthquake & Tsunami Awareness Campaign at ODPEM's Kingston offices.

Davis said that the agency will be collaborating with the parish disaster coordinators and parish disaster committees from the municipal corporations and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information to mount “a special activity across every school in the nation.”

“Here, we are going to reassure the nation that if we missed out on it (earthquake preparedness), we want to make sure that our children don't,” the director general said, noting that the island wide programme of activity will include the staging of the “largest earthquake drill ever held in Jamaica.”

Davis, in emphasising the importance of preparedness, pointed out that “a hazard like earthquake has no season.”

“In fact, midway between our (2018) hurricane campaign, we had to reorganise ourselves to take on earthquake awareness right in the midst, but this is the nature of what we do. We must be flexible,” he said.

The Earthquake & Tsunami Awareness Campaign is being observed during Earthquake Awareness Week from January 14-25 under the theme: 'When an Earthquake strikes be bold… Drop, Cover and Hold'.

This year's campaign is focused on the youth, with earthquake awareness day for schools observed on January 16.

On the day, ODPEM invited students from 40 primary and secondary institutions schools from across the island to Fort Charles, Port Royal, for a cultural exchange.

There, the schools presented their earthquake preparedness strategies to the ODPEM and interacted with disaster response stakeholders such as the National Works Agency, National Water Commission and the Jamaica Fire Brigade.

Students were also taken on a tour of Port Royal to learn about the impact of the 1692 earthquake and tsunami.

Earthquake awareness day for businesses was observed on January 16.

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