Table of Contents
The St. James Central District Emergency Organisation (D.E.O.) was established 15 years ago in August 2003 at a meeting at the West Terrace Primary School following the creation of the St. James Central constituency. Of the six persons who attended, I volunteered to head a small committee of three persons, to face the challenge and the fear residents expressed after the passing of hurricane Lili in 2002.
Lili caused extensive damage throughout the Caribbean. While Barbados was spared and not severely impacted, Lili was the second major hurricane of the 2002 Atlantic season reaching category 4 strength.
Barbados experienced little hurricane activity in 2003, which gave the small committee some time to gather and seek what level of community response existed and to seek to find ways of building resilience. That same year however, saw some of the worst flooding Holetown and its environs experienced.
A meeting with the then Parliamentary Representative and members of Holetown community and the business sector was held, followed by a series of investigative trips to ascertain the source of the flood waters, and a proactive plan was established to deal with the entire St. James Parish, as similarities existed throughout the entire coastline.
To achieve aspects of our plan, a series of training opportunities and simulations were delivered for residents, private and business sectors.
The concept of community profiling was later added, so as to give pertinent information of the hazards and the level of risk, as well as to engage the communities and build membership. Then the structure and By Laws were developed so as to add those needed administrative processes, objectives and methodology of responses.
Although we had achieved some progress and success, we were not prepared to rest on our laurels. A strategic plan, mission tenets and guiding principles were established so as to remain relevant and foster further levels of preparedness, ever mindful of the importance and expectation from our respective communities and stakeholders. Our membership also benefited from personal knowledge sharing and personal development, something that has become a major plank in our existence. Our records indicate that over 450 members joined the organisation over the past 15 years. St. James Central is home to a significant portion of our tourism industry. In the early years, many of our members were employed by or sought employment in the hotel sector or the associated service industries. Their work schedules did not allow them the time and commitment that they may have wanted to offer. In the last nine years we were however able to maintain an average of 50 -60 active persons to service the programs and response capacity of the D.E.O.
Stakeholder partnerships with essential services, businesses and private sector, the media and major property owners, all significantly added to the experiences and fortunes of the D.E.O. For this I say a grand thank you, for without your assistance and commitment our D.E.O. would not have achieved the success thus far.
As I look to the future, I have a sense of achievement and confidence that higher levels of disaster risk reduction in our communities will be achieved, and further development of the D.E.O. is secured in the quality of our current membership.
I however feel that the District Emergency Organisations in Barbados are taken for granted by all. I have always expressed the view that the authorities will one day accept that our country’s disaster resilience has to be community driven, and pay more attention and commitment to the District Emergency Organisations by offering adequate training, funds and resources and recognition for the work the D.E.O.s are doing. This can all foster greater community acceptance and engagement.
Barbadians must not continue to practise the current high levels of lip service and complacency to those hazards that will impact us one day. Failing this we will one day be devastated if our attitudes and cultural norms continue as they are today.
I stand ready to continue to do my part to ensure the St. James Central D.E.O. remains relevant, and to further build our community resilience to the varied hazards that we will continue to experience.
On behalf of the Management and Staff of Co-operators General Insurance Company Ltd, I want to extend heartiest congratulations to the Chairman and Staff of the St. James Central District Emergency Organisation (D.E.O.) as they celebrate their fifteen anniversary of service to the St. James community.
I have always contended that this St. James Central D.E.O. has been the shining light of all the D.E.O.’s in Barbados. They have a solid management structure in place which ensures the smooth functioning of the organisation. The organisation has continually been involved in the training of their membership on disaster management and equally have been educating members of the community about the threats and impact of disasters as well as the importance of disaster planning.
Co-operators General Insurance has been pleased over the years to support this organisation and will continue to contribute to its success in the coming years.
– Mr. Anton Lovell, General Manager – Co-operators General Insurance
I was first introduced to St James Central DEO when I met Mr Brooks at a disaster conference in the USA. We agreed to meet again upon returning to Barbados and since then have formed a good bond. It is interesting that there are a number of DEO’s across Barbados, yet most are almost inactive.
Mr. Brooks has been a driving force in his DEO encouraging participation and through providing experience and training, as well as active community service in cooperation with various government departments. An example of this is the review and management of fire hydrants in their district. They encourage participation of businesses not only in their district; my company is an example of this being based in Christ Church and I enjoy working with the members who all are enthusiastic in serving the community.
The members are encouraged to share their knowledge and skills with others especially in other local DEO’s, as well as furthering their knowledge of working in a disaster situation. I have found that they are extremely professional in the execution of the DEO requirements and I make myself and knowledge available to them whenever they need advice. In my experience other DEO’s should work with St James Central to enhance their capability and learn how to make the DEO experience one that all districts can expand and ensure Barbados is ready for a disaster and not just St James Central. I congratulate all the members on the fortitude they have displayed, even when things are not necessarily going their way and encourage the Department of Emergency Management, local politicians and businesses to support this worthy volunteer organization. Congratulations on your 15th anniversary and I look forward to providing my support, advice and training in the future.
– Bob Turnbull, Business Continuity Professional
As the St James Central District Emergency Organisation (DEO) celebrates its 15th Anniversary, I commend the Chairman and members on reaching this milestone and for their continued commitment to disaster risk reduction and mitigation in Barbados. The District Emergency Organisation is the first line of defense in preparation for and response to disasters. The resilience of communities to natural and man-made disasters lies in their capacity to prevent, prepare for and respond to natural hazards. The St James Central DEO commenced operations in August 2003 with 3 persons and has grown with an active membership of 71 dedicated persons.
The sustained commitment of the St James DEO to training and development of volunteers in their community in the areas of basic disaster management, first aid, telecommunications, shelter management, damage assessment and needs analysis and mass casualty training augurs well for the building of resilience and the development of a culture of safety. The St James DEO also conducted a Vulnerability Impact Assessment to identify vulnerable persons, areas, buildings within the community.
No single group or organisation can address every aspect of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR). DRR thinking sees disasters as complex problems demanding collective response from different disciplinary and institutional groups – in other words partnerships. The St James Central DEO as part of 30 such organisations in Barbados, forms a critical link between the community and the Department of Emergency Management. Considering the prediction of more severe weather systems, the importance of DEOs to the national effort cannot be overstated, they are the backbone of community preparedness in Barbados.
I wish dedicated men and women of the St James DEO unremitting success as they continue to build resilience as part of Barbados’ Comprehensive Disaster Management network for not if but when the high wind comes!
– Captain E.R. (Ricky) Shurland, Executive Director, Regional Security System
An invitation to facilitate a Strategic Plan for the St. James District Emergency Organisation was accepted with a sense of duty to country and honour at being considered capable to assist this organization which was viewed as one of the most progressive thinking and organized body within the area of emergency and disaster management.
It was my delight to serve with the Committee of Management and members in this phase of their noble work. I proceeded to engage them in a workshop series to develop a plan that would guide the organisation’s strategic philosophy; that is, Vision – a statement which articulates what the St. James District Emergency Organisation will strive to become; Mission – tenets that state what the organization will do to achieve the Vision; and, Core Values – behavioural principles that express the collective commitment members intend to adopt in pursuing the Vision and Mission.
As part of a consultative and collaborative process, participants reviewed the environment in which the organization operated, its strengths and weaknesses and arrived at a number of tentative conclusions and identified desired action steps for improvement of salient internal factors. We also examined the external environment in which the St. James District Emergency Organisation operated, identified trends which presented opportunities and posed threats for the organization in the long-term and detailed responses which the organization might adopt to mitigate the threats and take advantage of the opportunities.
After the strategic analysis, participants brainstormed the strategic areas requiring priority attention, which culminated in a determination of the primary direction driving force for the organization in the foreseeable future. Based on this determination, a number of required changes, short, medium and long-term objectives as well as related action plans and activities were established.
We noted that documentation of the wishes and dreams for the future is only the start of the process and accepted that implementation, monitoring, evaluating and adjusting are critical to the success in achieving the various deliverables and milestones that we set.
It was also recognized that effective communication of the hopes, wishes and desires as identified by the plan to the several stakeholders of the St. James District Emergency Organisation will also determine the level of success it will be able to achieve.
– Hensley T. Sobers, PhD.
It gives me great pleasure to be celebrating the 15th Anniversary of the St James Central District Emergency Organization having been a member from its inception in 2003.
I was the Principal of Good Shepherd Primary from 1998 until 2013 and welcomed the DEO to have their initial meetings at the school. The group was small but was always very dynamic. The Chairman, Mr. Brooks, provided training for the staff and held several informative meetings, to remind the staff of their responsibilities and duties in the management of the school during a disaster or an emergency.
The St James Central District Emergency Organisation provided invaluable support to the school and staff during my tenure as Principal such as the management and execution of emergency drills and other activities including the acquisition of First Aid Kits.
The participating staff members benefited tremendously from the knowledge and training provided by this outstanding group.
During the passage of several weather systems when the school had to be opened, as it was a Category One shelter during those years, the Principal and Senior Teacher were assured of visits from Mr. Brooks and members of his team before and after the passage of the systems.
Let me express sincerest congratulations and deepest appreciation to Mr. Brooks and the Executive and members of the St James Central DEO on their achievements over the last fifteen years and May God continue to bless you as you move forward.
– L.J. Bynoe, Retired Principal
On this your Organization’s fifteenth (15th) Anniversary.
You are entrusted with the crucial task of possibly preventing natural and manmade disasters in the country and should they occur, responding, managing, mitigating and eliminating their consequences.
When a disaster strikes, first responders rely on community partners to serve as frontline resources providing supplies and men and women to help those in need. This is very true of the St. James District Emergency Organization. We at The Salvation Army are proud to be associated with this Organization and do endorse you and your members for your continued invaluable contribution to Disaster Preparedness in St. James in particular, and Barbados in general. We also admire your organization’s interest in the development of systems and personnel for the improvement of your organization and those you serve.
The value of your organization is made manifest in these very difficult times of climate change and dwindling financial resources, where the challenges of mitigation seem to be greater, especially as our communities become more densely populated and our people seek to build, ignoring very often our water ways and other critical issues in population planning. We truly commend you for a service well done with anticipation of more and greater services to our nation.
We also note in your planning, you have taken into consideration that our region has become more prone to serious national disasters, and for this we commend your organization. Keep up the Good Work.
– Major Denzil S. Walcott, Community Relations Director, The Salvation Army (Barbados Division)
Congratulations to the St. James Central District Emergency Organisation on their fifteenth anniversary celebrations.
It is with a sense of pride and joy that I join with other Barbadians in celebrating the work, the efforts and success of this organisation. Throughout those years, I have had the opportunity to observe them growing from strength to strength as they set about building and developing the organisation while sharing knowledge of disaster planning and emergency response techniques with members of the St. James community.
I do believe that as a result of their organisational skills, commitment and dedication to their cause that residents and business owners with whom they come into contact are more knowledgeable and much better prepared in mitigation and resilience techniques.
I therefore endorse this organisation and commend their work ethic and attitude to similar organisations within the Barbadian community.
May they continue to meet the needs of persons whom they serve.
– Mr. Wilfred Marshall, Retired Fire Chief
Cheryl Griffith- Vice Chair
I am a Business Continuity Management Consultant with over ten years’ experience in building functional plans to handle disruptions and maintain continuous business operations. I joined the St. James Central District Emergency Organization in 2009 and have served as Treasurer and am the current Vice-Chair. Over the past nine years, my passion to help others and a sense of responsibility to service the community has led me to be the first female to complete the chain saw training course. I am always looking for learning opportunities to best serve the community and have participated in the community profile program and have completed training as a damage assessment officer. I recently completed a Disaster Field Operations Course at the Florida International University and believe that as community disaster emergency volunteers, we are the first line of defense, so it is our responsibility to be prepared. In doing so, we contribute to the safety and security of our communities and our country.
Cynthia Brooks- Secretary
I joined the DEO in April 2008, and took up the position of Secretary from 2010.
Over the last ten years I have been exposed to various disciplines of training including, Damage Assessment, Basic First Aid, Radio Communications and Message Handling, and Fire Safety.
I have also completed the Trainer of Trainers course facilitated by the European Volunteers for Response to Emergencies in the Caribbean (EVRECA) and have completed a course in Basic Sign Language for First Responders.
I am proud to be a member of this active DEO and thoroughly enjoyed participating in community profiles over the years in Redman’s Village, Arch Hall, Hoyte’s Village, Fitts Village and Prospect.
I have been the recipient of the Chairman’s Award and the DEO of the Year Award. I am a member of the finance committee and the radio communications committee.
Since joining the DEO, I am ever conscious and more aware of the environment and safety at home and in the workplace.
Philip Jordan- Road Clearance Officer
I became a member of St. James Central DEO in the year 2010. For me, this was a way of making a contribution at the community level and also being able to gain more knowledge on matters pertaining to Disaster Management, on the one hand, and delving further into other areas of interest, such as, environmental protection and preservation.
During my time as a DEO member, I have participated in a number of Training and Planning Seminars, gully and sight seeing tours, along with community profiling exercises.
Currently, I am charged with the responsibility of leading the Road Clearance Team and there have been opportunities to practise some of the skills related to tasks that would be performed by members of this team in the event we are called into action.
Even though I have benefited from much of the information and insight during my membership, my greatest wish is that our community and country never have to experience any type of major disaster at anytime during my lifetime and a long time after. Hopefully we can use these times to better prepare ourselves and prevent, where possible, any situation which may bring us face to face with such an event.
Lorna J. Bynoe- Shelter Officer
I became a member of the St James Central District Emergency Organization in 2003 while Principal of the Good Shepherd Primary School. Since retirement in 2013 I became a member of the Executive, later becoming Chairperson of the Shelter Committee.
I have been involved in shelter management since 1998 when I attended my first shelter management training. In 2010 I successfully completed Training for Instructors in Shelter Management.
I have been a shelter manager for fifteen years and have conducted several training modules for the DEO and other interest groups.
Other interests include gardening, line dancing exercising and sea bathing.
George Best- Executive Member
My involvement in Disaster Management started in 1974 at the Ministry of Transport and Works when I was issued with the North West district of the island, which stretches from Prospect to Cove Bay.
I was formerly involved in the St. James South DEO. I served on the Steering Committee which was set up to amalgamate the three St. James DEOs into one parish DEO. This effort was aborted, and in 2017 I became a member of the St. James Central DEO.
Over the years I had training in Damage Assessment, Safe use of the chainsaw, Radio Communications and First Aid. I am currently attached to the Road Clearance and Communications sub committees.
Hazel Burnett-Jordan- Communications Officer
Since joining the DEO in 2010, I have been a privileged participant in a number of events including a strategic planning workshop, various training modules and gully tours.
I am a member of the Finance Committee and am presently in my second two-year term as Communications Officer, a role which affords me the honour of leading a dedicated and enthusiastic team of 13 trained radio operators.