WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2020: PORT OF SPAIN, TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO – Disaster can strike without adequate warning and for families and caretakers of children with special needs, it is imperative that they are prepared in order to prevent the worst outcome. On January 28, 2020, the staff and students at the New Beginnings School, Petit Valley demonstrated their level of preparedness and participated in an emergency evacuation drill, supervised by the Trinidad and Tobago Fire Services (TTFS). The emergency evacuation drill was co-ordinated and executed as part of the Digicel Foundation’s Preparing You! Programme.
Preparing You, now in its fourth year, builds capacity and provides safety equipment to special needs institutions in Trinidad and Tobago. The programme exposes persons with special needs and their caregivers to the fundamentals of disaster risk reduction and emergency evacuation planning. In October 2019, the school received fire extinguishers, fire alarm systems, smoke detectors, and signage for muster and egress points recommended by the TTFS after an inspection of the school.
The Foundation also presented two computers to the school to provide the students with access to relevant educational programmes and the technology to facilitate a broader range of safety preparedness activities that meet the needs of the students.
Phillis Griffith, Principal of the New Beginnings School expressed that she was pleased with the various safety equipment installed at the school as part of the programme. Representatives from the Diego Martin Regional Corporation assigned to the Disaster Management Unit, who were also present, maintained the importance on having regular emergency drills to reinforce the training the students and staff received from the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM).
Fire Sub Officers Trimmingham and Samaroo from the TTFS Wrightson Road, Division were particularly impressed at the level of seriousness that the staff and students displayed during the emergency drill. They applauded them for their response time in safely exiting the building. The officers also provided recommendations for safety improvements at the school, including the relocation of the current muster point and securing a high visibility vest and stop sign for the Fire Warden.
New Beginnings is one of the 10 special schools that will benefit from the Preparing You programme.