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Apr 17, 2019

Testing the State of Readiness for City Emergency

A busy area of Central American Boulevard was abuzz with even more activity this morning as residents carried out their last minute preparedness for the Easter holidays. The heavily trafficked area near the Eighty-eight Shopping Center was overflowing as an all too frequent incident played out. A man had been shot to death and a woman was being rushed to the hospital. The gunmen fled in a waiting vehicle. Police, B.D.F., BERT and firemen arrived on the scene and sprung into action. But if you didn’t hear of the murder, it is because it was in fact a simulation exercise to check the readiness of CEMO. So did they make the cut? News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

There was a shooting incident at the busy intersection of Central American Boulevard and Neal Pen Road this morning, where a man was fatally injured and a female victim had to be rushed to the K.H.M.H. for emergency medical attention.  The man, whose identity is yet to be confirmed, died on the scene after being shot once to the upper left side of the chest.  News Five understands that the gunmen who carried out the deadly attack fled the area in a waiting vehicle and during their escape caused a collision between to vehicles which also left two persons seriously injured.  It was utter chaos in front of 88 Shopping Center, as police officers and members of the Belize Defense Force converged on the location.  Shortly thereafter, the wailing sirens of an ambulance and a fire truck were heard in the distance as they too came racing towards the scene.

 

Michael Noralez

Michael Noralez, Councilor Responsible for CEMO

“What we just witnessed is a simulation of an accident, an emergency and we are here on behalf of the Belize City Council to see how quickly the different agencies that work with us, that collaborate with us, could respond to such emergency.  So in this case we had two persons getting shot.  The police came first, and we had an accident almost simultaneously right at the Corner of Central American Boulevard and [Neal] Pen Road.  The agencies involved are police, the fire department, the B.D.F.  We also had the BERT ambulance and members of the communities around here.”

 

And without hesitation, those first responders sprang into action, lending a hand in extricating the accident victims from the mangled wreck of vehicles.

 

Michael Noralez

“They were here to more or less help the firemen to more or less remove the people from the vehicles.  But I am also here in connection with working with Councilor Hilton who actually put this together.”

 

Deltrude Hilton

The brainchild of Councilor Deltrude Hilton, who is responsible for Public Health and Cemetery, this exercise aimed at testing the state of readiness, as well as the response time for each of the responding agency.

 

Deltrude Hilton, Councilor, Public Health and Cemetery

“This all came together because I was an employee at BERT ambulance for over eighteen years and every year we normally do this simulation in order to pool together all the resources to see how effective we are and to tighten up the loose ends.  And now that I am a city councilor and I’m responsible for public health, I believe that it was quite needed so that we can inform the public of what not to do and what to do and how careful they should be while going out on their holidays and even otherwise.”

 

Despite the fact that it was simply a mock-up, there were a few glaring observations, including the officers’ failure to properly secure the perimeter.  The first order of business upon the arrival of responding officers and Scenes of Crime personnel is to cordon off the area, to allow for emergency medical personnel, investigators and technicians to be able to work unimpeded within its confines.  That wasn’t the case this morning.

 

Michael Noralez

“When it comes to that, I think you would have to speak to the police because that’s the agency that deals with security.  Remember, they cannot respond until they are called and probably you can speak with the commander out here so that you could get more information.  I wouldn’t know anything about that.  We were just hoping that they would come, do what they needed to do because if you noticed, the people around here had no idea that this was going to happen.  So they were a bunch of inquisitive people, I noh blame them, it’s in their hood so they need to see what’s happening and you will notice that if some of these people in the accident were their families then the emotions would take over and they would want to react right away, instead of waiting for the police.”

 

The overall response time, according to Councilor Hilton, was fairly appropriate.

 

Deltrude Hilton

“The time span, looking at the time span that we have for everybody, it is within a timely manner based on the traffic that we have to come through and at the end of the day, each department takes their own time.  Everybody has personnel out here that clocks the time when they come in, as from the time that they are called.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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