The Daily Herald writes that the various groups which form part of Emergency Support Functions (ESF) groups attended 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 on St. Maarten. The purpose of the training was to illustrate processes that form part of the structure of Disaster Coordination on the island.
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 have the chance to attend the training without disrupting the services they provide. During the theoretical training, Martens thoroughly outlined and explained the command and coordination structure that is prescribed in the Public Safety Law BES. In another presentation the tasks and processes of ESF groups were described. 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 enacted. The first simulated a car going over the side of the road, which occupants had to be rescued. The second scenario simulated an explosion at Saba Electric Company’s power plant at 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. These observers were Silvanico Pauletta and Antonio Gibbs of the St. Maarten Fire Department. Martens stated at the close of the week’s events that cooperation between the three Windward Islands was very important, considering their proximity and difference in scale of populations.
Island Governor Jonathan Johnson said the training was part of the island’s efforts 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 residents.