Thu | Sep 28, 2023

Companies should have business continuity planning procedures in place – ODPEM

Published:Saturday | April 1, 2023 | 12:47 AM

The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) has cautioned local companies to have a ‘Business Continuity Planning Procedures’ in place, in the event the country experiences a major earthquake.

“Your team should be trained in terms of your general emergency requirements, how you treat with staff, and how you ensure that persons are safe during or after the quake,” acting director general, ODPEM, Richard Thompson said.

He outlined that during a major earthquake, a tremor can go beyond 30 seconds, depending on the magnitude and severity.

“Sometimes 10 seconds or even three seconds can seem like a lifetime, so it’s important to ensure that you are doing your emergency planning procedures and you constantly have your drills,” Thompson added.

The acting director general argued that by doing such things, the practice would become ‘second nature’ or as he would say at the ODPEM, ‘nature’.

“If it is second nature, you have to think about it. If it becomes nature, you just act while the situation is happening. So, these are elements that as a general public we have to employ to ensure that there is a great degree of safety in an earthquake event,” Thompson explained.

He reminded that it is important that individuals protect the most vital parts of their body.

“We speak to the fact that you drop, cover and hold. You get under something very sturdy … you cover your head and you hold in order for you not to be shaken off your feet,” said Thompson.

Thompson further urged businesses and schools to implement a warden system within their organisation.

“Companies and schools should ensure that they have floor wardens. These persons should be so trained and equipped where they can check the facility to ensure that everyone would have evacuated the building,” urged Thompson.

He pointed out that wardens are to also check to ensure that there are no ruptured pipes or gas leaks in the building.

“This is just to ensure that you might not have the secondary occurrences, such as fires and your hazardous material leaks,” said Thompson.

Once people evacuate and are gathered at the assembly point, the warden should also check against the register to make sure that everyone is accounted for.

Other mechanisms, such as search and rescue and mass casualty procedures, will be employed by the various State agencies with responsibility for response and recovery, in the event of an earthquake.The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) hosted a series of activities to mark Earthquake Awareness Week 2023 from January 8-14, under the theme, ‘Drop, Cover, Hold ... Earthquake Readiness Is Within Your Control’. Since the start of the year there has been several incidents of earthquakes and significant tremors across regions.

Eleven provinces were hit by the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that devastated parts of southern Turkey and northern Syria on February 6.

That quake led to more than 48,000 deaths in both countries as well as the collapse or serious damage of 185,000 buildings in Turkey.

The World Bank has estimated that the massive earthquake caused $43.2 billion in “direct damages” - an equivalent of four per cent of the country’s GDP in 2021.

In February several Caribbean islands were rattled by earthquakes.The Seismic Research Centre (SRC) of the St Augustine campus of the University of West Indies (UWI), reported quakes in Trinidad, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica and the French Islands of Guadeloupe.