Got TIPS or BREAKING NEWS? Please call + 1 284 340 NEWS (6397) or 346-6397 or 393-6397 or 1-284-494-1338-office; ads call 346-9999

DDM runs first ever cruise disaster simulation exercise

A rescue team assists the injured first off the vessel during the simulation exercise on January 11, 2013. Photo: VINO
Dramatization: Injured persons scattered on the floor of the
Dramatization: Injured persons scattered on the floor of the "cruise ship" awaiting the arrival of the rescue teams. Photo: VINO
Paul Saunders, a Disaster Risk Management Specialist at DHP Caribbean Ltd. in Trinidad and Tobago, briefs Customs Officers during the simulation exercise. Photo: VINO
Paul Saunders, a Disaster Risk Management Specialist at DHP Caribbean Ltd. in Trinidad and Tobago, briefs Customs Officers during the simulation exercise. Photo: VINO
Dramatization: Two injured passengers of the ill-fated cruise ship during the simulation exercise. Photo: VINO
Dramatization: Two injured passengers of the ill-fated cruise ship during the simulation exercise. Photo: VINO
An evaluator taking notes during the DDM's simulation exercise. Photo: VINO
An evaluator taking notes during the DDM's simulation exercise. Photo: VINO
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI – The level of preparedness of the relevant sectors that would have to respond to any incidents involving cruise ships, was put to the test yesterday January 11, 2013, for the first time in the history of the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) of the Virgin Islands.

The Exercise, code named "Operation: Tropic Hit", surrounded the scenario of a cruise vessel in distress with over one hundred passengers on board that were sick and injured and needed to disembark the vessel for further evaluation or treatment. Causality was also included.

According to a press release from Government Information Service (GIS), the scenario tested the recently drafted procedures for managing cruise disasters and evaluated the Territory's emergency response and interagency communication in response to such a disaster.

“Consultant Mr. Paul Saunders, a Disaster Risk Management Specialist at DHP Caribbean Ltd. in Trinidad and Tobago, facilitated the exercise which also served to examine the use of the incident command system, local support available to impacted vessels, border control, managing environmental impacts, communication, handling the media and management of external assistance,” it stated.

The release added that prior to the exercise, Mr. Saunders had said “this exercise will not only further train the emergency responders and test their plans, but will serve to bring greater awareness to the marine community towards the need for developing and testing their emergency plans as well.” He continued by saying, ”This exercise is part of an initiative to ensure that adequate plans and procedures are in place to address all possible hazards that can impact the Territory and that the critical resources are available to ensure that there is a good response.”

Among the evaluators and numerous participants were two (2) overseas observers. Superintendent Elliott Forbes of the Royal Anguilla Police Force and Ms. Melissa Meade, Director of Anguilla’s Department of Disaster Management who observed the entire exercise with the intention of conducting a similar exercise in Anguilla during the coming months.

In her comments about the exercise Ms. Meade stated, “After witnessing this exercise, I am now very excited to go back to Anguilla and to ensure that the appropriate procedures and guidelines involving pleasure yachts and large scale passenger marine vessels transiting our waters are developed and implemented. We too have identified that we may not be able to prevent an incident from occurring but with combined efforts and a high level of preparedness will aid in averting a catastrophe.”

After the simulation exercise, a debriefing was held at the conference room at the DDM between all agencies that participated for further evaluation and discussion.

Some forty (40) persons served as volunteers for the exercise including teenagers, adults, and persons speaking more than one language. Each volunteer was given a role to dramatize during the exercise which they all agreed was a “very good” exercise. During a post-mortem exercise, volunteers were given the opportunity to discuss with the coordinators their observations and even made recommendations.

This exercise came out of a project in 2012 which developed standardised procedures and guidelines for managing incidents involving large marine vessels. Funding for its development came from the Comprehensive Disaster Management Harmonization Implementation (CDM HIP) Programme which is implemented by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Agency (CDEMA) and various donor partners including UKAID from the Department of International Development; and financial support for the exercise was provided for under the Government of Italy’s “Enhancing Resilience to Reduce Vulnerability in the Caribbean Region” project.

It was also said that the need for the Virgin Islands to be well prepared to respond to incidents regarding cruise disasters stemmed from the sinking of the Costa Concordia off Tuscany, Italy on January 13, 2012.

5 Responses to “DDM runs first ever cruise disaster simulation exercise”

Create a comment


Create a comment

Disclaimer: Virgin Islands News Online (VINO) welcomes your thoughts, feedback, views, bloggs and opinions. However, by posting a blogg you are agreeing to post comments or bloggs that are relevant to the topic, and that are not defamatory, liable, obscene, racist, abusive, sexist, anti-Semitic, threatening, hateful or an invasion of privacy. Violators may be excluded permanently from making contributions. Please view our declaimer above this article. We thank you in advance for complying with VINO's policy.


Follow Us On

Disclaimer: All comments posted on Virgin Islands News Online (VINO) are the sole views and opinions of the commentators and or bloggers and do not in anyway represent the views and opinions of the Board of Directors, Management and Staff of Virgin Islands News Online and its parent company.