NEMO working to improve emergency communication

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NEMO working to improve emergency communication
Community disaster reSPonse volunteers undergoing training.
Community disaster reSPonse volunteers undergoing training.

PRESS RELEASE – The 2015 Atlantic hurricane season is well underway, and the National Emergency Management Organisation in the Office of the Prime Minister continues to take steps towards reducing Saint Lucia’s vulnerability and building resilience to hazard impacts.

The latest initiative was a two-day telecommunications workshop held this week at NEMO headquarters in Bisee. The goal of the exercise was to train members of District Disaster Committees in the use, care and basic maintenance of VHF handheld radios given that NEMO has established such infrastructure in every constituency.

Under the guidance of facilitator Fabian Lewis, a NEMO volunteer, members of 16 District committees took part in the workshop. The initiative focused on two-way radio communication, which NEMO relies on in the event of natural disasters, where commercial communications may be compromised. Participants were taught to use and troubleshoot two-way radio equipment, as well as communication techniques that could come in handy should disaster strike.

The activity fits seamlessly into NEMO’s plans for enhancing its emergency communications system. NEMO director Velda Joseph says the organisation recently upgraded its physical radio network through the installation of new digital base stations and repeaters acquired under the Hurricane Tomas Emergency Recovery Project.

Additionally, NEMO is in the process of mapping out its plans for a more integrated telecommunications system which will enable more efficient communication between disaster response officials and agencies as well as the outside world.

In the months to come, NEMO will be staging further radio training exercises, as it seeks to further reduce the island’s vulnerability. This week’s exercise was sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) which is also donating a quantity of handheld radios to NEMO.

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