14-18 July 2014

Imagine that weather analysts predict a tropical storm will turn into a hurricane and hit the South Coast of Jamaica within the next 36 hours. Do you know what to do? Do you know how you would respond? Do you have enough resources to do what will need to be done?

During the week of July 14th, C4i Consultants worked with Jamaica’s Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) to conduct a National Emergency Operations Simulation Exercise. The exercise involved decision makers from key agencies including the Jamaica Constabulary Force, the Jamaica Defence Force, the Jamaica Fire Brigade, the Customs Department, and ODPEM itself.

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The week began with training on EDMSIM. With a couple hours of instruction, participants were able to begin preparation for the hurricane exercise. Just as in real-life, the decision makers in each organization verified that their critical response assets within the computer simulation were prepared, properly deployed and ready for the hurricane. Then they reviewed their plans and procedures and braced for the impact of the simulated storm.

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The computer-simulated hurricane struck with full Category 3 force on Thursday July 17th and the agencies worked briskly and confidently together to deal with the impact and after-effects on the South Coast of Jamaica. The computer simulation greatly increased the realism of the exercise and participants noted that they were animated and involved almost as if the storm was actually happening.

Like every great exercise, there were many lessons learned that the participants hope to quickly put into practice. One of the key take home messages was that inter-agency communication is critical during times of crisis. The computer-simulated emergency gave the participants a chance to fully exercise their communication and response protocols and identify areas for improvement. Similarly, the computer simulation helped show the critical importance of maintaining good information management and information flow between headquarters and the field during times of crisis.

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The citizens of Jamaica can be rightfully proud of their leaders and their country’s disaster response capability. C4i was extremely pleased to work with such a diverse, professional and effective team. The care and attention each agency gave to their tasks was remarkable, and resulted in outstanding value for their training time. C4i is now working with several aid agencies to help find funding to enable ODPEM to purchase an EDMSIM system of their own so they can continue to conduct training exercises year-round.

For more information about the event, please contact: info@www.c4itrgtech.com

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