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Jun 8, 2016

CEMO Hosts 4th Annual Symposium on Road Safety

This morning, representatives of various government, municipal and private organizations gathered for the City Emergency Management Organization’s fourth annual symposium. Timed to coincide with the start of the hurricane season, these sessions are focused on pertinent aspects of disaster-related factors and emergency response. Today, it was all about Road Safety. Mike Rudon was at the opening and has the story.

 

Mike Rudon, Reporting

This is the fourth year that CEMO, through the Belize City Council, has been hosting a symposium with national stakeholders. The first was on emergency management, the second on floods, the third on Climate Change and the session this morning was focused on road safety, in general and particularly in times of emergency.

 

Darrell Bradley

Darrell Bradley, Belize City Mayor

“It’s very important and critical for us to bring together all stakeholders. I think we have over twenty-five organizations represented here this afternoon including all nine municipalities, the Ministry of Transport, PAHO, the Red Cross, various private sector entities including RF&G, Atlantic Bank…we’ve had the Road Safety Project which has been a partner in the organization and sponsorship of this event, so it’s very important for collaboration. When we talk about something like road safety you’re dealing with individual actions so public awareness is important. So when you bring together stakeholders they then serve as a conduit for emergency information going back to their organizations.”

 

The theme this year is emphasizing good road safety practices. And road safety is about more than just infrastructure. It also entails enforcement and post-accident response. The stakeholders are being brought together to explore the different challenges they have in their areas to ensure a comprehensive approach.

 

Pamela Scott

Pamela Scott, Project Manager, Belize Road Safety Project

“Normally people think of road safety as only infrastructure, but road safety takes into consideration the post-crash care response – how the ambulance responds in time. It deals with the enforcement aspect. You can have all your infrastructure in place, but if we don’t have a system to follow to ensure that we are doing the right thing, then we are not catching the people. Our safe system approach looks at forgiving roads. People will make mistakes, but what will we do to be able to reach to them before we have serious deaths or injuries.”

 

The Red Cross is one of the organizations which always plays a front-line role in the event of any emergency. They were present this morning because where road safety is concerned there must be cohesion and collaboration between all pertinent entitles.

 

Lily Bowman

Lily Bowman, Executive Director, Belize Red Cross

“People drive and take it for granted. People don’t realize, and they need to realize that they are not driving alone. They are driving along with a hundred other people that are on that road as well. You might be alone in your car but you’re not alone on the road, and you have to always be aware that you drive for you and for them. So it’s critical to hear the outlook from everybody, the positions that all the different entities are taking and to see how together they have to partner and work as one, because one affects the next. You have for instance the Police who are normally the first on the scene with the traffic officers, but they depend on you who are on the road but didn’t have anything to do with the accident to drive carefully because there’s an accident on the road. Then they depend on the first responder who can come and assist until the paramedics come in. They depend on the ambulance and it’s just a domino effect, so everyone is linked and we are correlated, so we must all collaborate.”

 

The symposium will also be looking at the practical and on the ground aspects of road safety, from prevention to response.

 

Pamela Scott

“We’ll be looking at the protocols that are set up for the Traffic Department, for the Heath Care System, for the Municipal Traffic…also looking at the protocols for BERT and the BERT cost. We have the Fire Department actively involved in the process. So all these agencies are coming together to look at how their protocols will be tested to respond to an incident. So we are trying to make the practical session as real as possible.”

 

A simulation is set up for tomorrow, day two of the CEMO symposium. Mike Rudon for News Five.

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