Minister On Disaster Risk Reduction Team Work

July 28, 2019 | 2 Comments

Planning has been underway by the Disaster Risk Reduction and Mitigation Team [DRRM] in conjunction with other agencies for an exercise, called Vital Archer, which will be held in April 2020 at the airport.

This was from Minister of National Security Wayne Caines, who was speaking in the House of Assembly about the work performed by the DRRM which was created to “develop and strengthen Bermuda’s disaster contingency plans, and codify the roles and responsibilities of the Emergency Measures Organization.”

Minister Caines said, “Late in 2018, Bermuda Government was approached by the United States who were interested in holding a counter terrorism exercise in Bermuda. Whilst the likelihood of such an incident occurring in Bermuda is low, we should nevertheless have contingency plans in place.

“Planning has been underway by the DRRM Team in conjunction with other agencies for this exercise, called Vital Archer, which will be held in April 2020 at the L.F. Wade International Airport.

“In preparations for this live exercise, a Table Top Exercise attended by 19 departments and agencies was held in June at Warwick Camp. It was successful in identifying Bermuda’s multi-agency roles, responsibilities and limitations including what is expected of the Americans.”

The Minister also provided an overview of other work of the DRRM team including Cruise Ship Contingency Planning, an all hazard Emergency Evacuation Plan for the Ferry Reach area, preparation for the hurricane season and more.

“The work of the DRRM team is important in ensuring that Bermuda is prepared for any large scale natural or man-made disaster. I am confident that with their thorough contingency planning our island home will be well equipped to confront any emergency situation that arises,” Minister Caines said.

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Mr. Speaker, I rise this morning to update this Honourable House on the work performed by the Disaster Risk Reduction and Mitigation Team within the Ministry of National Security. Honourable Members will recall that the Team was created to develop and strengthen Bermuda’s disaster contingency plans, and codify the roles and responsibilities of the Emergency Measures Organization.

Mr. Speaker, the DRRM team continues its Cruise Ship Contingency Planning. During the 2018 cruise ship season, the DRRM Team engaged the cruise ships and the stakeholder agencies for one tabletop and one live exercise. The lessons learned from those exercises was used in the development of a comprehensive report that was shared among all relevant stakeholders. The exercises and the after action report have assisted with the drafting of contingency plans to respond to any major incident or mass rescue operation, which could occur on a cruise ship that is visiting, or passing Bermuda. Not only is this critical for the safety and security of the cruise ships, passengers and staff, but should an incident occur, it is beneficial in safeguarding the reputation of Bermuda.

Mr. Speaker, during cruise ship season 2019, all regular cruise callers to Bermuda have been provided with a document identifying and highlighting the key evacuation and assembly points in the Dockyard area. This document has been welcomed by the cruise ships as there were no evacuation or assembly points identified prior to this season. The document gives approximate walking distances and maximum capacities for each location. The forward teams onboard each ship have been given a familiarization walkabout tour of the key evacuation and assembly areas. In the case of an emergency, the cruise ship forward teams will be sent to the respective areas to greet and provide accountability for the ship’s passengers and crew. The document also contains important contact details and other pertinent information. Honourable Members and the public are advised that there are two additional cruise ship emergency exercises planned for this season that will further enhance cruise ship contingency planning.

Mr. Speaker, the DRRM Team continue to advance Contingency Planning with focus on developing an all hazard Emergency Evacuation Plan for the Ferry Reach area, including the two prisons. Honourable Members will be aware that there is only one access road in and out of Ferry Reach. The purpose of the plan is to determine an alternative option and procedures for safe, controlled evacuation of the Ferry Reach community should an event occur that presents a severe risk to life and health of the community.

Mr. Speaker, The DRRM Team have analyzed census data, conducted site visits, consulted with key stakeholders, and sought technical advice from the Department of Marine and Ports to determine a way forward. A working group has been formed comprising of the DRRM Team, SOL Petroleum, RUBIS Energy, and Ferry Reach neighborhood representatives to collaboratively develop the Evacuation Plan. I am pleased to report that the drafting of the Plan has commenced, with the first draft distributed to the working group on July 12, 2019. The goal is to have the Plan completed by December 1, 2019.

Mr. Speaker, a DRRM team member has been working closely with Government House, Government Departments and private entities on updating contingency plans for National Infrastructure. The planning includes facilitating tours to familiarize the responders with the ground layout, industry terminologies, mapping updates and partnerships with stakeholders. One such engagement will be with BELCO in September to coincide with their environmental week.

Mr. Speaker, the regional tsunami exercise held in March presented an opportunity for the DRRM team to be involved with finding viable ways to alert the public of pending national emergencies. These efforts are in conjunction with The Department of Communications [which launched the “Tree Frog” Notification App earlier this year], the Bermuda Weather Service and Maritime Operations, other EMO agencies, as well as the private sector. A DRRM team member sits on the steering committee for the new government radio initiative which will allow inter-agency operability. As technology advances, the DRRM Team, and the Government as a whole, will continue to introduce modern means of communication and keeping the public updated in emergency situations.

Mr. Speaker, late in 2018, Bermuda Government was approached by the United States who were interested in holding a counter terrorism exercise in Bermuda. Whilst the likelihood of such an incident occurring in Bermuda is low, we should nevertheless have contingency plans in place. Planning has been underway by the DRRM Team in conjunction with other agencies for this exercise, called Vital Archer, which will be held in April 2020 at the L.F. Wade International Airport. In preparations for this live exercise, a Table Top Exercise attended by 19 departments and agencies was held in June at Warwick Camp. It was successful in identifying Bermuda’s multi-agency roles, responsibilities and limitations including what is expected of the Americans.

Mr. Speaker, the existing Government Cybersecurity Security Manager has been transferred to the DRRM Team, and is responsible for developing a number of strategies, policies and guidelines for the secure management of the Government’s Information Systems. Representatives from the Ministry of National Security participated in the Regional Conference on policies and strategies on Cybercrime for the Caribbean Community, which was held in the Dominican Republic from June 12-14. The conference focused on international cooperation and the establishment of good practices to combat cybercrime at the national and international levels. As part of the National Cybersecurity Strategy the Cybersecurity Governance Board is reviewing Bermuda’s cybercrime legislation to ensure that it is aligned with international standards.

Mr. Speaker, forming part of the DRRM Team is the National Events Planning Coordinator. This team member is engaged with the organizers of large public events in Bermuda to ensure that they are safely organized and professional in their approach. Active planning is underway for the safety and security of upcoming events including the Annual Cup Match Classic, PGA Golf Event, and Carifta Games 2020. The National Events Coordinator works alongside the Liquor Licensing Authority and the Bermuda Police Service as well as other stakeholders to ensure that these public events are properly organized to decrease the risk of a major incident occurring, that could lead to injuries or jeopardize Bermuda’s reputation.

Mr. Speaker, each year Bermuda diligently prepares for hurricane season. This year a DRRM team member visited the British Virgin Islands in late March for a workshop on the lessons learned from Hurricanes Irma and Maria. This workshop was sponsored by the British Red Cross and members from the Bermuda Red Cross were also in attendance. Following the workshop, the DRRM team advanced talks between the Bermuda Red Cross and Government departments who are involved with Bermuda’s most vulnerable population to ensure this segment of our population will be adequately prepared and protected in an emergency situation.

Mr. Speaker, our Hurricane Preparedness week was the first week in June with the EMO having its first hurricane meeting on June 5th. The next hurricane predictions will be released early August. Statistically Bermuda has experienced the most destructive hurricanes in September and October, so it is important that we remain prepared.

Mr. Speaker, the Emergency Broadcast Facility, which broadcasts on 100.1 FM and goes live before, during and after a hurricane until normal media communications resumes, has been tested and is working. This facility is being upgraded in the next 12 months to transition from an analogue signal to a digital signal.

Mr. Speaker, the work of the DRRM team is important in ensuring that Bermuda is prepared for any large scale natural or man-made disaster. I am confident that with their thorough contingency planning our island home will be well equipped to confront any emergency situation that arises.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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Comments (2)

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  1. Clem says:

    The biggest threat to Bermuda is not a hurricane, but the PLPs failure to deliver on immigration.

    Perhaps the DRRM Team should be helping to coordinate a response to our falling birth rate and hight emigration.

    I make this suggestion not in jest, but in all seriousness because the implications of the PLPs failure of leadership leaves every Bermudian more vulnerable.

  2. Joe Bloggs says:

    I can think of a number of disasters that the PLP Government has not planned for. Debt reduction. Economic growth. Equal rights for all. The end of racial division for political gain.

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