Tuesday , March 28 2023

Saba ESF Groups undergo Disaster Management Training

The various groups which form part of the Emergency Support Functions (ESF groups) attended a week of training exercises last week. The training was held under the guidance and expertise of Paul Martens of the Office of Disaster Management (ODM) of the Fire Department in St. Maarten. The purpose of the training was to illustrate the sub processes that form part of the structure of Disaster Coordination on the island.

Emergency Personnel responding at the harbor in Fort Bay during the operational exercise (Photo GIS Saba)
Emergency Personnel responding at the harbor in Fort Bay during the operational exercise
(Photo GIS Saba)

During the theoretical part of the training participants were divided into two groups, with each group having identical workshops on different days. This was done so every stakeholder could be given the chance to attend the training, without disrupting the services they provide. During the theoretical training Mr. Martens thoroughly outlined and explained the Command and Coordination Structure that is prescribed in the Public Safety Law BES. Another presentation was the description of the tasks and processes of the ESF groups. The participants of the workshop were asked to indicate which ESF group is considered the lead agency in any disaster process, and also which agencies should provide assistance.

During the operational training, which was held on Thursday, two realistic scenarios were given. The first simulated a car going over the side of the road, where occupants had to be rescued. The second scenario simulated an explosion at the Saba Electric Company power plant at the harbor in Fort Bay. The response and interactions of the various groups and emergency services were observed. The main focus of the operational training exercise was to identify and observe three elements: ownership and execution of processes; communication and coordination. After the exercise an evaluation took place between observers and participants. The observers were Silvanico Pauletta and Antonio Gibbs, from the Fire Department on St. Maarten.

Paul Martens, in his remarks, at the close of the week’s events, stated that cooperation between the three Windward Islands was very important, considering the proximity of the islands to each other and difference in scale of the populations.

Island Governor Jonathan Johnson said that the training was part of the islands effort to increase its disaster response capabilities and that it was important for the island to be ready to face any serious events which could disrupt the lives of its residents.

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