The Civil Defence Commission (CDC), Guyana’s leading agency for disaster management, recently launched a 24-hour operational National Emergency Management System (NEMS) which will see the CDC becoming the hub for all emergencies in Guyana.
The agency’s Director General Colonel (retired) Chabilall Ramsarup, in a recent interview with the Government Information Agency (GINA), indicated that the CDC never had a 24-hour emergency management system except when the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) was activated.
This new move by the agency comes at the request of the current administration to have a system in place, where all emergencies and not necessarily disasters can be monitored.
“The government wants us (CDC) to be a hub for monitoring any emergency in Guyana whether it be boat, aircraft or vehicle accidents, fire and so on,” Ramsarup explained.
He added that since the request was made, discussions were held with the joint services, and it was agreed that in conjunction with Operation DRAGNET, a number of Officers were to be assigned to the CDC for the duties in the NEMS
The system, which started early November, saw the senior staff of the CDC, along with competent members of its Volunteer Corps, functioning to provide the 24-hour service to members of the public. Now the staff complement will benefit from Officers of the Guyana Defence Force.
“What they do is to take all telephone calls, emails that come in during the period, evaluate those emergency calls and either direct the people who are calling, to the right agency, or make contact with myself, the Operations Officer, or the Deputy Director General. If the situation is serious, then we activate the NEOC by discussing it with the Minister of State Joseph Harmon or even the President, depending on the gravity of the situation,” Ramsarup explained.
Such a system sets the framework for emergencies and disasters to be carefully monitored in the country, especially during the holiday period, but most importantly, it seeks to regularise the emergency framework that is in place countrywide.
“In the past, we had things that were activated in different places; for example, if we had an aircraft crash, the Civil Aviation Authority would activate their own emergency operation system, likewise, the Maritime Administration in the event of a boat accident…What the President wants is for all emergencies and disasters to be activated at the CDC through the NEOC,” Ramsarup stated.
The efficiency of the NEMS hinges on effective inter-agency networking, which means that the operational Disaster Risk Reduction Platform, which comprises a number of disaster management partners, and government agencies, will be tested.
“There are a number of telephone numbers and key personnel from the various departments of government and private sector and NGOs, so it makes easy contact… All agencies were alerted as to what should happen… For example, should there be a health emergency; the Ministry of Health would have an SOP. Once the information comes, we alert them, who will activate their procedures and if needs be, we can activate the NEOC, depending on the gravity of the situation,” Ramsarup explained.