TUESDAY, APRIL 23 2019: PORT OF SPAIN – Planning for students in emergencies means planning for all, including those with special needs. This was the premise upon which “Preparing You!” a disaster preparedness and emergency management programme for persons with special needs started.
Now in its third year, with co-funding from the Inter-American Development Bank as administrator of the IDB LAB, the Digicel Foundation has expanded and augmented the initial concept of Preparing You! The project will extend essential training and capacity-building to teachers/caregivers, residents and students, by equipping them with information, training and resources for emergency/disaster preparedness and evacuation, using technology tools and platforms for scalability and increased impact.
Over the period March 18 - April 3, in partnership with national agencies such as: the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM), and the Trinidad and Tobago Fire Services (TTFS), 60 special needs teachers, caregivers and administrators across six beneficiary special needs schools in urban Trinidad and Tobago received training via a series of ‘Train the Trainer’ workshops on disaster preparedness, first aid training and fire safety.
During the series of workshops, Franchesca Peters, ODPM Training and Education Specialist, presented on Emergency Planning for Special Needs Schools and explained the role of the ODPM as the national coordinating agency that manages all phases of the Disaster Management Cycle, including: prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery, climate change adaption. Improved collaboration and sensitization within communities, emergency and evacuation procedures, and creation of safety committees were some additional areas discussed during the workshops. Officers of the TTFS reinforced the lessons shared by ODPM and engaged participants in practical exercises on fire safety and the correct use of fire extinguishers.
Penny Gomez, Digicel Foundation Trinidad & Tobago CEO noted of the programme, “This year the scaled-up version of Preparing You allows for the use of technology to train the target market. This is important as we live in a digital age and the introduction of new technologies to assist with a smoother and more engaging delivery of training materials is a step in the right direction, as we continue to create a world where no one is left behind.”
As the momentum builds, the Digicel Foundation along with the subject matter experts from national agencies and in conjunction with teachers and administrators, will develop tailored emergency and disaster response protocols and procedures for each institution. Training materials, and an appropriate training methodology utilising engaging technologies, content and delivery plan to suit the student population at each school, will then be delivered directly to the students/residents.