JAM | Jun 7, 2023

Health Ministry says ‘all systems ready’ to adequately respond to earthquakes in Jamaica

/ Our Today

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The Ministry of Health and Wellness is reporting that all systems are in place for an adequate response in the event of an earthquake.

Dr Nicole Dawkins-Wright, director of the Emergency and Disaster Management and Special Services (EDMSS) branch of the ministry, said that the ministry is always prepared for such an event.

Dawkins-Wright is also the national health disaster coordinator responsible for directing the actions of the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), which is charged with coordinating the health response in the event of situations such as earthquakes.

The EDMSS director explained the role and the expected ministerial response in the event of an earthquake.

Director of the Emergency and Disaster Management and Special Services (EDMSS) Branch of the Ministry, Dr Nicole Dawkins-Wright

“An earthquake, by its very nature, is without any semblance of prediction. It can happen at any time and, therefore, we should, in essence, be always prepared for one,” she said.

“The ministry is charged with and has primary responsibility for the provision of public health services and emergency medical care to victims who may be affected and impacted by an earthquake that has affected our island in such a way that there may be compromise of service-delivery mechanisms,” the EDMSS Director added.

She explained that such an occurrence may lead to persons being injured and in need of care and management.

“What we would have, in essence, is a surge in demand of our regular routine services, public health services and medical services,” Dawkins-Wright explained.

The EDMSS director said that in keeping with the ministry’s comprehensive disaster management strategy, “we would have taken steps to build our health system, so that we can assess the situation at hand, assess our capabilities to respond and be able to craft a response”.

Dawkins-Wright explained that in regular or routine preparedness activities, the ministry makes provisions for mass casualty incidents and for the public health interventions that are required following that catastrophe, depending on the scale of the event.

“If there is no severe damage, there could still be persons who may have been affected by the quake or the tremors, effects of the actual hazard in and of itself, and some persons may have other medical manifestations leading to that trigger event,” the EDMSS director said.

She highlighted that the ministry has made provisions for the management of up to 100 victims.

Different parishes have different capabilities, with most being able to manage between 10 and 15 victims.

“In excess of that, it is highly likely that we would need to mobilise international support, and so we have a mechanism in place to bring in persons to enhance our capacity,” she added.


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