THURSDAY APRIL 2, 2020: PORT OF SPAIN, TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO – Goodwill Industries Vocational Training Facility is getting prepared for natural disasters. The Vocational Centre that serves approximately120 persons with disabilities recently participated in an Evacuation Drill to ensure the readiness and safety of students in the event of a fire or natural disaster.
Officer Hunte of the Fire Prevention Unit, Northern Division and the Port of Spain Disaster Management Unit (DMU) supervised the emergency drill on March 13, with staff and students quickly and safely existing the building under two minutes. The DMU Coordinator Stefan Affonso praised the students and staff for their prompt response and reiterated that such practical training exercises reinforce knowledge of how to respond during an emergency. Mr. Affonso made special mention to the students in the Food and Nutrition department who followed the necessary safety precautions in the kitchen before evacuating, demonstrating their understanding of the training they received last October.
ODPM representative, Lesley Ann Blackburn expressed her gratitude to staff and students for taking the capacity building training as seriously as they did and commended Goodwill Industries CEO, Barbara Alleyne for her continued dedication to the programme and effecting the changes at Goodwill Industries.
Digicel Foundation Project Officer Natalie-Anne De Silva shared that, “a crucial component of emergency planning drills are safety training measures, designed to familiarize students and staff with the school’s emergency procedures.” She added, “They provide the opportunity to test procedures, reveal weaknesses in procedures, build staff and student awareness, improve response and coordination, clarify roles and responsibilities and improve individual performance.”
Digicel Foundation, through its Preparing You Programme aims to work with special needs schools and institutions to increase the awareness on disaster preparedness and emergency evacuation. Preparing You! is done in collaboration with the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM), Fire Prevention Unit of the Trinidad and Tobago Fire Services (TTFS), and the Disaster Management Units (DMU) and builds capacity in disaster risk reduction, emergency evacuation and fire prevention. The programme also includes a critical component where special needs facilities are assessed and outfitted with necessary safety equipment to help them respond more effectively to hazards and natural disasters.