NEMO, UWI-SRC host workshop
Friday, November 16, 2018
by Janelle Norville, GIS

The National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO), on Wednesday, held an information sharing session on the threat of earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions to Saint Lucia.

The session was attended by NEMO officers and facilitated by the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre (UWI-SRC).

Volcanologist at the UWI-SRC, Erouscilla Joseph, said a number of role-play activities were being conducted in an effort to help familiarize disaster responders with the necessary follow-up action.

“We’re running one of the scenarios with respect to a volcanic eruption at the Soufriere Volcanic Center,” Ms. Joseph explained. “We’re taking one of those scenarios and running it as if it has happened, the different stages involved, and the responses that the officers would take amongst themselves in their different roles, including responses to the press.”

Earthquakes have become more frequent in the Caribbean with a 5.9 magnitude earthquake hitting Haiti on the Oct. 6, and a 3.9 magnitude earthquake hitting Trinidad and Tobago as recently as Nov. 11. Ms. Joseph said the Seismic Research Center remains alert, and maintains constant contact with emergency agencies and heads of government.

“We regularly communicate with governments, and our first line of contact—natural disaster coordinate officers—on earthquake and earthquake safety,” she said. “All of our contacts have the relevant information, and they are alerted first before the message is sent into the public domain through our Facebook page, our website, and Twitter,” she said.

“In terms of communicating the importance of the message to government, that is regularly done through meetings, letters, and other forms of communication. It is also done through activities like this, by us coming to the islands this week being Earth Science Week, and conducting outreach sessions and updating the information we have in each island on their volcanoes as well as the earthquakes.”

Ms. Joseph highlighted recommendations coming out of the UWI Seismic Research Center.

“There is need to improve the public’s own response so that we avoid panic. I know it’s difficult, but if we practice something over and over, it becomes more habitual rather than a panicked response,” she explained.

The workshop forms part of activities for Earth Science Week.