|NEMA, Social Services host EOC Management Workshop|
|Friday, 17 August 2012 08:10|
NASSAU, The Bahamas --- Senior and administrative staff of the Department of Social Services participated in a key, one-day Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) Management Workshop as the Department continues to prepare its personnel to play key roles in the event of a hurricane or another disastrous event.
Conducted by Force Chief Warrant Officer (Rtd.) Luke Bethel, a regional and internationally certified disaster manager, planner and trainer who serves as Operations and Training Officer with the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the workshop came on the heels of a four-day seminar on Shelter Management and Initial Damage Assessment for Department of Social Services personnel that were also conducted by Force Chief Bethel.
Members of the Department’s Rehabilitative and Welfare and Disabilities Sections also collaborated with officials of the National Disability Association to host a training seminar for persons living with disabilities as part of the Department’s ongoing preparations.
“The purpose of this workshop was to establish an Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) at the ministry or the department (of Social Services) that can effectively manage disastrous situations and information and then feed it to the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) located at the NEMA,” Force Chief Bethel said.
“Social Services plays a critical role in preparedness, response and recovery in a disastrous event and in particular, the management of shelters, relief supplies distribution and medium repairs for homes. We rely on them heavily for on-the-ground work, reports and advice because Social Services and/or Case Workers or Case Aides have been stationed on many of the islands and are very much familiar with all of those things associated with family island communities,” Force Chief Bethel added.The workshop covered areas such as designing and establishing an emergency operations centre, effectively managing an emergency operations centre, activating an emergency operations centre, best practices regarding staffing EOCs and other areas including operations, communications, logistics and finance.
Force Chief Bethel said while each essential Government Department has a representative stationed at the National Emergency Management Agency as part of the agency’s Emergency Support Function (ESF) network, establishing individual EOC’s allows for quicker decision-making at the national level, which in turns allows for more effective and efficient response times.
“We can respond in a more time effective manner at the national level because the information coming from the area, particularly in the Family Islands, is confirmed much more quickly and quick action can be taken in knowing, prioritising and responding to the needs of individual and collective communities,” Force Chief Bethel added.
Ms. Kim Sawyer, Assistant Director, Community Affairs Division, Department of Social Services, said establishing an EOC at the Department was key to managing a disastrous event from a social services perspective.
“Establishing an EOC within our Department allows us to expand our presence because even though we have a representative at NEMA as part of the ESF Network, there is a need to have our own operation ongoing during a disastrous event that can further tie into the national emergency operations centre,” Ms. Sawyer said.
“We have already identified the area that will serve as our EOC if we have to activate and so this workshop comes at a most opportune time because it allows us to know what is expected of those of us who are selected to work with the Emergency Operations Centre and it precedes those months when hurricane activity is expected to increase.
“Prayerfully we don’t have any hurricanes this season, but we always want to ensure -- as a Department -- that we are prepared to handle any situation,” Ms. Sawyer added.
Photo: TRAINER -- Royal Bahamas Defence Force Chief Warrant Officer (Rtd.) Luke Bethel, conducts one-day Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) Management Workshop. (BIS Photo / Patrick Hanna)
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