As part of the activities to commemorate Earthquake Awareness Week which is observed annually in January, the St. James Municipal Corporation, on Friday, January 13, 2023, spearheaded an earthquake simulation exercise at its 19A Union Street building and the St. James Infirmary.
The earthquake simulation was done in accordance to national preparation plans from the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM). The aim of the drill was to test the Municipal Corporation’s current emergency response and identify areas of improvement.
The exercise was also geared at disseminating information to staff and customers who were present while assessing their critical thinking and analysis skills during the eventuality of an earthquake.
Mayor of Montego Bay, Councillor Leeroy Williams, who was in full support of the earthquake drill said “The simulation exercise carried out by the Municipal Corporation speaks volume to the Corporation’s commitment to the safety of its workers; these exercises are important to ensure that the staff at all our locations are knowledgeable and prepared in the event that we should experience such natural disaster.”
Mayor of Montego Bay, Councillor Leeroy Williams, braces against a door jam during and earthquake simulation drill at the St. James Municipal Corporation building on January 13, 2023.
“I implore members of the business and civic communities to engage their appropriate stakeholders in carrying out exercises like this to better prepare the nation to manage disasters when they occur”, he further added.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Municipal Corporation, Mr. Gerald Lee also shared views expressed by the Mayor and added that “The drill was a success and the exercise was worthwhile as we got the full cooperation of all staff members and the procedures were observed.”
Staff of the St. James Municipal Corporation's Revenue and Commercial Services Department participate in an earthquake simulation drill at the Municipal building on January 13, 2023.
In a subsequent presentation, Assistant Emergency Preparedness Coordinator for the Parish, Miss Andreka Nelson said that “We cannot stop natural disasters but we can arm ourselves with knowledge and practice the steps necessary to aid in safeguarding against the negative impacts often associated with these eventualities, so many lives would not have to be lost if there was enough disaster preparedness.” In an effort to remind the staff of the correct response to an earthquake Miss Nelson reiterated the “duck, cover, hold” measure which can be taken if inside a building. When outside, the correct measure is to stand in an open space, away from trees, poles and tall buildings.
In light of the 1993 earthquake which struck Jamaica on January 13, the Corporation saw it fit to carry out the simulation on said date to highlight the tragic event that took place and the importance of being prepared.