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Aug 27, 2019

Tropical Alliance Tests Belize’s Disaster Readiness

Traffic came to a grinding halt this afternoon on the Burrell Boom Bridge. A drunk driver collided into an oil truck which then crashed into other vehicles, including a bus filled with tourists and two military vehicles.  It was a mass casualty event that looked like real life, but fortunately Tropical Alliance was testing its response capabilities. A number of agencies were involved in the exercise headed by the Department of the Environment and BATSUB. The question is whether the agencies can perform appropriately should such a situation develop? Here is News Five’s Isani Cayetano.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Tropical Alliance, a mass casualty, environmental disaster simulation exercise, concluded its third phase this afternoon in the Belize District where a road traffic accident on the Boom Bridge resulted in multiple injuries.  As part of that scenario, various agencies responded to the location in order to test their readiness.  The exercise, organized by the Department of the Environment and the British Army Training Support Unit Belize, serves to prepare first responders in helping to save lives and protect the environment in the event of an disastrous situation.

 

Anthony Mai, Environmental Officer, DOE

Anthony Mai

“The DOE partnered with BATSUB, I think in early April, to develop this simulation exercise.  We immediately envisioned it to be a multi-agency simulation and so BATSUB had specific reasons as to why they wanted to, they approached us to assist them with developing this simulation exercise.  They have a lot of soldiers in country and they would want to ensure that if an accident like this would occur in real life that the government agencies could work together and respond to a situation like this.  We threw in the oil spill component to test the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan that was recently approved by the Cabinet.  So our staff is here responding to the simulated spill.”

 

Following the exercise, an assessment was carried out on communication and reporting during the incident, directing emergency services, responding to and dealing with environmental disaster and extracting casualties by vehicle, boat and helicopter.

 

Major Alan Grant

Major Alan Grant, Training Safety Officer, BATSUB

“So what we’ve got, this scenario was caused by a drunk driver hitting an oil truck.  The oil truck then collided into other vehicles, including a bus filled with tourists and two military vehicles.  So we’ve ended up with a mass casualty situation. As well as a truck being pierced and simulated oil, in this case water, pouring into the Belize River.  We also have casualties in the river at the same time.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Now how do we measure the response time of the respective agencies who are out here rendering assistance?”

 

Alan Grant

“We start by starting the clock and see how long it takes, but it’s not just about the time and the measuring.  It’s about communication, informing each other and letting people know where the real danger is and identifying what risks they can take or can’t take and how they should react and correspond with each other.”

According to Anthony Mai, the final phase of Tropical Alliance includes the participation of as many as nine agencies.

 

Anthony Mai

“This is the actual simulation response and so you have agencies such as NEMO, the police, the fire department, the BDF.  You have the Department of Environment, BERT, BATSUB, obviously, and then we have an air-evac that will be done by Astrum as well.  So it’s a multi-agency approach.  The idea for today is first to train, to capitalize on this initiative, if the event would occur in real life, to work together closely so that we can prevent any loss of life.”

 

Isani Cayetano reporting for News Five.


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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