Statement by the Director General of ODPEM, Major Clive Davis
The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM)
The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management notes the recent occurrences of Earthquake events in the region and in Jamaica over the past two months.
We understand and acknowledge the concerns and anxieties being expressed by the populace at this time.
Our partners in the community of practice have advised that despite the frequency with which the region has been experiencing events of this nature, it is not an indication of an increase in the occurrence of earthquakes on a global scale. In fact, in the case of Jamaica, research has shown that we experience an average of 200 earthquakes each year. Most of these are usually small and may not even be felt by humans.
It is however believed that our awareness of the last few events may have been heightened as they occurred on the weekend and was also carried widely by traditional and “new” media. This in and of itself, has the advantage of increasing awareness and hopefully that of our preparedness.
On the other had if this information is not provided in context and with the necessary scientific support, it could unfortunately, increase anxiety.
Despite advances in seismology it is still not possible (in the true sense) to predict the occurrence an Earthquake. Earthquakes have no season and are neither weather related nor having relationship to the concepts of climate change. It is instead a normally occurring phenomenon of life on Planet Earth.
As we become concerned, we cannot allow ourselves to become paralyzed into inaction. We must be proactive.
We ask that you put preparedness measures in place to manage Earthquakes. These include the identification and securing of items in your facility which, in an earthquake, could fall or topple and result in blockage of exit paths or cause injury. Plan and rehearse your response to Earthquakes. Have a Disaster Plan for your family, business or institution.
For further information, you may reach out directly to our Offices, any Municipal Corporation and visit our Social Media Pages.
If an earthquake was to occur, you must respond. The teaching of DROP, COVER and HOLD (DCH) remains the desired response, when indoors. Stop whatever you are doing; get under a sturdy desk, chair or other item of furniture; hold on as firmly as you can. Where appropriate furniture does not exist, stand in a door jamb or up against a wall. If you are outdoors, stay away from tall buildings and power lines. Get to an open area.
As soon as the shaking stops, use the nearest and safest exit, to evacuate the building and go to the pre-designated Assembly Point.
The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management and its partners continue to work with stakeholders in public and private sector, to plan and build for earthquakes. This includes the adherence to codes and regulations for construction. The use of credible and qualified entities and/or personnel in construction and compliance and enforcement in building practices.
Additionally, the national disaster organization continues to build capacity, plan and rehearse for national response and coordination to Earthquakes.
The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) and its partners are at your service. Disaster happen…be prepared.