It was a commendable effort from the nation’s schools in the annual tsunami exercise Caribe Wave conducted by the National Office of Disaster Services (NODS) on Thursday 10th March 2022 as part of a regional initiative aimed at enhancing tsunami preparedness.
More than 26 primary and secondary schools participated with at least three pre-schools and one government office. In Antigua, most of the educational institutions evacuated to their safe areas while students from at least one secondary school helped to evaluate the exercise. In Barbuda, educational presentations were made to students and teachers from the primary and secondary schools and the pre-school.
One pupil from the T.N Kirnon Primary said the exercise was good. “We did well. We were in order and we left school. It was a bit confusing at first cause it was my first time doing a tsunami drill but still fun”. T.N. Kirnon School Principal Denmore Roberts says his institution has developed a disaster management plan and drills are a regular part of the activities.
Principal of the Antigua Grammar School Samuel Roberts says the exercise went well however there are a few things that need to be looked at. “We got out and up in pretty good time. Everybody knew the plan but afterwards, from speaking with the observer from NODS, he was able to point out one or two weaknesses we had. There were some students that might not have been able to move as quickly as the others and we knew who they were but there was nobody assigned to really look after them”, said Roberts.
The tsunami exercise has highlighted several issues – the need to have disaster plans in place, the regular testing of plans and ensuring adequate access to safe areas.
A major aspect of the exercise was the means of notification which was the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP). This consists of a cell phone app which persons would have downloaded on their smart phones. This year’s Caribe Wave exercise simulated a tsunami being generated from a magnitude 8.2 earthquake in the region of the Dominican Republic. Waves would have impacted in approximately three hours. The CAP alert was sent six minutes after receiving notification from the Antigua and Barbuda Meteorological Office, which gets tsunami warnings from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in Hawaii. – the end –