Jamaica: Earthquake drills for 300 schools

KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) – Some 300 schools in Kingston and St Andrew, St Thomas and St Catherine, will simultaneously stage earthquake drills on March 22 and 23, as part of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management’s (ODPEM) ‘Drop, Cover, Hold’ (DCH) campaign.

The simulation exercise involves collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information.

Speaking at a recent JIS Think Tank, Training Manager at ODPEM, Cheryl Nichols, highlighted the importance of the drills.

“Our children are among the more vulnerable population and with this in mind, we are using the DCH campaign as one of our targeted interventions to protect them,” she said.

Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Coleridge Minto, who is Director of Safety and Security in Schools, informed that secondary institutions will participate on day one of the exercise, while the focus will be on primary schools on day two. The drills will get underway at 11:08 am on both days.

ASP Minto said the objectives are “to encourage the school community to conduct regular earthquake drills and update emergency plans; disseminate resource material on earthquake response; and spread the general message of preparedness for earthquakes in order to prevent damage and injury.”

He is urging schools to form or activate safety and security committees in time for the drills. It is these committees that will observe the activities at each school and make a report to the ODPEM.

ASP Minto explained that each committee should comprise staff members, a school resource officer, a parent, and a representative from the national safety and security group.

“There are pre and post (drill) activities that must be coordinated and so we are asking the committees to be in place and stand ready to support the exercise,” he said.

He is also appealing to the school administrators to complete the evaluation forms after the event, noting that the information captured with assist ODPEM and other critical agencies in improving disaster preparedness and response measures.

OPDEM’s DCH campaign aims to educate Jamaicans about the importance of preparing for an earthquake and further promote the methodology of Drop Cover and Hold to prevent and reduce injury.

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