PRESS RELEASE: The need for an effective and reliable communications system in an imperative in light of the recent hurricane season being one of the most devastating on record, rendering communities and islands cutoff from the rest of the world.
It is with this thrust that staff of the St. Lucia National Mental Wellness Centre via the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) conducted a one day training session in two way radio communication. Serona Leonce is the Chairperson of the Wellness Centre disaster committee.
“The Purpose of the workshop is to ensure that we are able to be prepared if there should be a disaster and to use communication devices rather effectively and efficiently.”
Leonce indicated that workshop participants came from all sections of the facility to ensure full coverage in times of disaster.
“You’ve got catering and domestic, you’ve got security, you’ve got the inpatient unit, we’re supposed to have persons also persons from the Occupational Therapy Department, administration, so it’s a mix of everyone and off course to ensure that we have every department geared up if incase we should actually have an event occurring.”
Facilitator for the workshop Lionel Ellis noted that during a disaster the need for communication becomes a top priority and though many people rely on cell phone technology, the two way radio is the most reliable means of communication during and post disaster.
” As been proven in the recent storms of hurricane Erma and Maria what worked without a doubt is two way radio. Whether it’s Ham Radio, whether it’s VHF by marine, by aircraft, by commercial sectors, these are the systems that work without a doubt and therefore it is important to get people interested and becoming radio operators at this time.”
Ellis is spearheading a recommendation to have every government facility outfitted with radio communications and backup generator power in towns and villages, to communicate timely vital information which can save lives during a disaster.
“We want to first make sure the ministries of government first understand the importance of this. Some people are still feeling more secure with cell phones but it’s a never ending fight. We have to continue driving this through to the minds of people that thing are getting better but also getting worse in some areas and their dependency on systems that will fail will be a tremendous loss to themselves and to the society. So it’s important that we keep on spreading this throughout the length and breadth of the Caribbean not only St. Lucia.”
The 2 way radio communication workshop was conducted at the conference room at the St. Lucia National Mental Wellness Centre.