Basseterre, St. Kitts, August 22, 2018 (SKNIS): In today’s world, the role of public information is critical in disaster management as early access to information is key to survival, said Vesta Southwell, Public Relations Officer (PRO) at the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
“Communications is one of the more important aspects of comprehensive disaster management. It begins way before an impact. It begins with education and awareness as we have already established,” she said, during Wednesday’s (August 22) edition of ‘Working for You’. “…we share information once the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) is activated upon impact. We have specific things that we do. We have to ensure that every resident has access to information that tells them what they should do in the event that the impact is affecting their homes. They must know what steps they can take and how NEMA can assist them in taking those steps.”
Ms. Southwell added that if one recognizes that his or her house may not withstand the impacts of a hazard NEMA would advise that they move to a shelter. She noted that information and decisions such as these are done entirely via the institution’s ongoing public education and awareness campaigns. She advised families and households in general to implement a plan in the event of a disaster.
“In the event that you are impacted and you need to move quickly, we suggest the creation of a plan that tells you where to go,” she said, adding that they should be practical as opposed to acting on guess work. “You want to already have a plan in place for you and your family so that every member of your family knows in the event that we are impacted we are first going to go next door….”
The PRO made a call for parents to ensure that their children are educated about what to do or where to go if a disaster strikes and the parents are not at home to assist.
National Disaster Coordinator at NEMA, Abdias Samuel, said that he hopes to be able to implement a plan that will cater to everyone.
“One of the ambitions I have is to have an all-inclusive approach, meaning, we have persons with disabilities and we want to ensure going forward that we get some professionals to come and do sign language, as well as be able to reach out also to our non-English speaking communities,” said Mr. Samuel.
Ms. Southwell noted that to date information is shared via a number of dissemination platforms, as everyone must have equal access to life saving information.