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ODPM activates emergency systems for Summit

by ANDRE BAGOO Tuesday, March 17 2009

click on pic to zoom in
SUNDAY JOB: As massive preparations for the Fifth Summit of the Americas get underway, work is also being done on the infrastructure in the capital ci...
SUNDAY JOB: As massive preparations for the Fifth Summit of the Americas get underway, work is also being done on the infrastructure in the capital ci...

THE OFFICE for Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) will activate its National Emergency Operations Centre for next month’s Summit of the Americas until “every last visitor is on an airplane and out of the country”, ODPM chief executive officer Col George Robinson said yesterday.

Robinson said the ODPM, which falls under the Ministry of National Security, has been working alongside the ministry and making special preparations for the Summit, which is expected to see over 4,000 visitors arrive in this country.

The emergency centre will be activated in the days leading up to the summit, carded for April 17 to 19, and then in the days after the summit.

“We are making special efforts; we are ensuring that there is sufficient disaster management coverage...The National Emergency Operations Centre office will be activated during the period of the summit for more than just the three days (of the summit). Until the last person gets on an aircraft we will be activated,” Robinson said.

He explained that the 16 emergency support functions from various Government ministries, including the Ministry of Local Government, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Works as well as the defence force, police and fire services, SAUTT, immigration and customs, as well as the Red Cross and other NGOs, “will be here with us running our national emergency operations centre on a 24-hour basis.”

Asked to identify the specific contingency plans the ODPM has put in place to deal with the summit, including whether it has received an increase in manpower in its organisation, Robinson declined comment.

“I am not going to give details of what we are going to do. But we will be prepared to deal with the consequences of natural or man-made hazards that will impact the delegates of the summit,” he said. “I want to reassure the public that no stone will be left unturned to ensure the safety and security of the participants.”

Asked what plans are in place in the event of flooding of downtown Port-of-Spain on the days of the summit, Robinson also declined comment, noting however that the ODPM has an “urban search and rescue” plan for “light medium and heavy” circumstances.

“We have been preparing ...there are several hazards that we have identified and we are building contingency plans for,” he said. He noted that the issue of rainfall is an unpredictable one given the current climate conditions. “When you look at the empirical data we are not sure what season we are in,” he said.

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