Belford Estates Emergency Exercise
Published 20th August 2009, 11:55am
The Belford Estates Community Emergency Response group conducted an emergency exercise on August 13, 2009. The exercise simulated the direct impact of a category 5 hurricane traveling up from the South at 14 mph, with the eye wall coming ashore near Bodden Town.
Group Leader Mr. Errington Webster explained that, "At 8 pm the group mobilized and we began conducting a survey of the damage and a head count of the residents in the community. As a result there were a number of residents that were not accounted for. We went door to door in our community and then commenced rescue and recovery operations. Injured victims were transported by stretcher to a central location where they were prioritized for treatment and transport to the District Emergency Medical Centre."
The Belford Estates Community group has been a model of excellence for the District Emergency Response Teams for a number of years. Hazard Management Cayman Islands Director McCleary Frederick confirmed that the exercise went well and was a good learning experience for those involved. "Ideally every community in the Cayman Islands should have a structure in place that will enable them to cope for a few days in the aftermath of a significant impact. If there is a significant impact, it may be several days before Government can reach out and render effective assistance, therefore localized groups like Belford are needed to bridge the gap."
HMCI Deputy Director Omar Afflick believes the Belford team is making their area a better place to live and raise a family. "The community groups can make a difference and we have seen this happen in the Belford Estates area. The Belford group is focused on protecting the residents from disaster, but by coming together they are actually transformed into an effective advocate for the community. For example, they pushed for additional street lighting and more lights were installed. They had concerns about flying debris because a certain amount of garbage had been dumped in their neighbourhood and they got it cleaned up. These teams work and I strongly encourage other motivated people to get involved in their own community. Contact HMCI and we will put you in touch with the group that has formed in your neighbourhood."
The emergency exercise in Belford Estates attracted a lot of interest, especially from other Emergency Response Teams that are forming in different parts of the district of Bodden Town. MLA Dwayne Seymour was also present and Mr. Steve Moore the head of the Governorís Office was on hand to watch the exercise.
Mario Rankin, the Bodden Town District Representative explained that they are looking to drill a number of wells in the Belford Estates area to reduce the threat posed by flooding. "We recognise that the residents of this community have first hand experience of this problem, they know where the water pools and where the wells will be most effective."
Commenting on the exercise, Mr. Errington Webster said he felt the group responded effectively. "We came together well, however the most important aspect is to discover where we still need to make adjustments, so we can continue to improve."
Mr. Webster thanked HMCI, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, the Fire Service and the Health Services Authority for their assistance during the exercise.