Basseterre, St. Kitts, April 13, 2018 (SKNIS): The capacity of security personnel across the Caribbean region in the areas of Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HA/DR) will be enhanced as St. Kitts and Nevis is set to host phase one of Exercise Tradewinds from June 4-12, 2018.
Claricia Langley-Stevens, Deputy Chair of the Local Organizing Committee with responsibility for Human Disaster Response Management said that humanitarian assistance and disaster relief training are special components of Tradewinds as it prepares participants involved in the exercise to better respond to natural disasters.
“Exercise Tradewinds as it relates to the humanitarian disaster response component actually started in 1995 and it was as a result of Tradewinds coming to St. Kitts-Nevis why NEMA [National Emergency Management Agency], the agency was formed. And one of the things that we find interesting is that although it is a military-based exercise there is very strong support for HA/DR and that is something that we believe helps us in capacity development as the overarching theme suggests,” said Mrs. Langley-Stevens, during her appearance on “Working for You” on April 11.
The deputy chair for the local Tradewinds 2018 steering committee noted that she is quite familiar with Exercise Tradewinds as she was integral in the planning and execution phases in 2015, especially as a representative of NEMA.
“I believe that it lends itself to being able to have NEMA as an agency and the government by extension to identify some of the strengths and weaknesses that our national disaster plan may have, while at the same time build capacity within the agency itself and by extension via our stakeholders,” she said.
Mrs. Langley-Stevens said it is important to note that the exercise is not fictional and encouraged the general public to show its support wherever necessary.
“We the organizers are able to design scenarios that would in reality affect us, therefore, giving us the opportunity outside of an actual event to be able to test our response times and mechanisms and I think when we design these exercises we use real hazards or the hazards that we are vulnerable to as a country,” she said, adding that this years’ Tradewinds will focus on earthquake and tsunami. “At the same time, we also saw an opportunity to partner with our air and sea ports authority in testing some aspects of its own emergency response plan as the case may be, having that level of responsibility to the international community and so we are going to be working with it.”
She noted that Nevis has given priority to the tourism sector to be able to work with tour operators in terms of realizing any eventualities that can happen while executing their duties, and how disaster officers are able to respond in terms of assisting with evacuation.