Parish Coordinator of Disaster Preparedness at the St. James Municipal Corporation, Tamoy Sinclair, is encouraging business operators to always be in a state of readiness, particularly as the 2023 hurricane season begins.
Sinclair, who, along with Director of Planning at the St. James MC, Trevion Manning, were observing a Hurricane Simulation exercise at the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) Company Limited’s office at the Bogue Power Plant on Tuesday, May 30, 2023, suggested that ‘the owners or proprietors of businesses must to do more emergency drills and simulations to better respond when disasters occur.’
The St. James Municipal Corporation’s Director of Planning, Trevion Manning (left) and Parish Coordinator of Disaster Preparedness, Tamoy Sinclair (second left) join the Jamaica Public Service Company limited’s Area Manager, Distribution Operation – West, Detommie Fuller (front right) and Director of Customer Solutions, Leroy Reid share a moment at the JPS’ island-wide Hurricane Simulation staged at the Bogue Power Plant on Tuesday, May 30, 2023.
“The JPS’s island-wide hurricane simulation, which is an annual exercise, is commendable and is exemplary of what we would want to see across the board for the business community. We don’t see many companies carrying out these simulation exercises and it can be a cause for concern,” said Sinclair.
“What we look for during an emergency simulation exercise is adherence to Standard Operating Procedures; we would like each entity to share with us, their state of readiness. It is interesting to see today, the JPS’ execution of their SOPs, how they handle the situation, their recovery time to ad-hoc situations and their response capabilities,” added Sinclair.
“All businesses must have a disaster management plan. However, we find that it is mostly larger corporations like utilities companies, government agencies and players in the hotel sector, who will stage emergency drills because they may still have ongoing operations even during a hurricane,” stated Sinclair.
She also said that “smaller businesses that can shutter their shops and return after a hurricane are not really in the habit of carrying out simulation exercises, even though the MC has reached out to those entities on numerous occasions.”
“We have staged a number of meetings and seminars targeting the business community, but have not seen the follow up that we would have wanted in terms of participants actually preparing and sharing their disaster management plans with us. Being invited to observe the JPS staging their simulation is a step in the right direction, and one that we would like to see more companies doing,” she concluded.
Manning, highlighting the importance of the simulation exercise said “we are eager to see the level of mitigation and preparedness with this scenario. We are now entering the hurricane season and want to see businesses, and residents of course, practicing increased preparedness to ensure we are better prepared to deal with disasters when they occur.”
“The JPS will be better off for their proactive stance, and it is good to see how their different departments respond to and assess the challenges they encounter. The use of information technology to gather data, and how they analyze this data is also remarkable and is, I believe a key take-away for replication in other entities,” Manning added.
Area Manager, Distribution Operation - West, Detommie Fuller, who was responsible for the St. James leg of the all-island hurricane simulation said the JPS does a number of exercises annually in preparation for the hurricane season.
“Annually we do a number of simulation exercises that allow us to go through our protocols and processes in preparation for the season, so that, should we have an actual event during the hurricane season our teams are alert, ready to respond and know their roles,” said Fuller.
“What we simulate is the process from the initial assessment to the point of restoration, just as it would under storm or hurricane conditions. It is really to have the teams actually walk through the entire process so they are all reminded of the process and their roles. All parishes are involved and all departments are involved,” added Fuller.
According to Fuller, the JPS invited the MC’s to give its Disaster Preparedness team a clearer view of what happens when the company (JPS) is responding to and carrying out its processes under storm conditions so the MC can be guided by that knowledge.