Categorized | Local, News

Disaster exercise Green Flash – reported a success

by Bennette Roach

Gov Savage

Governor Frank Savage

The main disaster response agencies in Montserrat were tested last week in a simulation exercise called ‘Green Flash’.

Former Governor Frank Savage served the island from 1993 to 1997 as the Governor. His experiences here created the opportunity for him to consult and teach on disaster management issues for the FCO and UK-based universities. He is officially retiring for active service for the FCO at the end of March 2013. He  was the organiser and chief planner for the disaster exercise. On Monday before the two-day exercise, he explained that it would be a simulation exercise, conducted within the DMCA, under his direction assisted by Toney Bates from the FCO and a team from the Pan American Health Organization, PAHO, led by Dr. Roselyn Bascom Adams.

“The exercise is designed to test the response of several agencies on island,” Governor Savage explained at the beginning, outlining further: “…it will be largely a simulation exercise, it will be conducted within the DMCA and all of the Montserratian players will be there making decisions based upon the evolving situation and we’ll be running them through seventy two hours of a simulated exercise program…” he told the media.  Bates speaks of plans since 2007

He noted that the difference of the exercise from previous was being joined by, “three colleagues form PAHO which I welcome and I appreciate PAHO giving us this resource. So in this particular exercise we’ll have three professionals who can look very closely how it is conducted and how health and hospital respond to this exercise.”

As planned the exercise (Operation Green Flash) was conducted over the two days, Tuesday and Wednesday, with all the simulations including media briefings and reporting. On Thursday Savage held a press briefing where accompanied by Bates and Adams he reported that the exercise was a success while weaknesses were discovered and recognized.

“…our unanimous conclusion when we sat down last night to assess the last two days the last two days, that it had been  a very worthwhile experience, that it had been a realistic exercise which had tested all the components of Montserrat’s disaster preparedness plan and we were struck by the enthusiasm  of all the participants and impressed with the high caliber of quite a large number of people making up the sub committees,” he said.

He lauded praise on the participants in the exercise and spoke of the weaknesses. “I think the strength as you’d expect in Montserrat is really the intellectual input that the majority of participants bring to the task. I mean I’ll praise Montserratians. You might not praise yourself but you’re among the best educated people in the Caribbean. when you set your minds to resolve a task, there are few other countries or territories who can bring that sort of intellectual approach,” he said. Savage commends exercise participants

Of the weaknesses, he said, “…in this particular case was lack of familiarity with the new plan, occasionally a little bit of obstinacy amongst one or two members…the old guard not always appreciating the new way of doing things and the second part of the exercise was a full drill quite a large drill,” explaining further and praising the youths. “…nineteen fantastic students from the Community College, they put an Oscar winning performance…”

Reporting with Savage was Tony Bates who pointed out that he had a dual role in the exercise. “I essentially had a dual role in this exercise, I was on the one hand an assessor and observer of the exercise. On the other hand I was also as far as possible exercising my own role in the situation that we were exercising which is hurricane situation. so I spent much of my time with the governor’s office coordinating what would be the UK government’s response to a hurricane both in the preparedness stage and the response stage…effectively we worked through what my systems would be in London to coordinate that response which involves drawing in a range of  organizations and agencies not just in the region but more widely such as in the UK, in Miami, in Bridgetown, in Montserrat of course,” he said.

The exercise chief commander had explained, “The test we give them was quite a demanding one, they didn’t know it but we reran hurricane Hugo. The 72-hour-period we give them to look at over a four hour period became more challenging each twenty four hours and we’re impressed…” he had said.

Meanwhile Dr. Bascom Adams from PAHO report her views on the exercise. She was involved in observing activities surrounding the hospital. “I think Montserrat on a whole would be pleased to know how well the health sector performed in the simulation exercise or the drill part of the exercise,” she began.

“…from a high level of staff, from the chief medical officer all the way down to the orderlies and the stretcher bearers, they were able to indicate great preparedness…that was clearly demonstrated,” she concluded.

The exercise which brought observers from PAHO, CEDEMA, Dutch St. Maarten as well as three from the FCO saw new committees, according to Savage,  “since we were here last…there is one covering Law Enforcement, police, ports, customs, shelters and welfare issues, recovery and damage assessment…” mostly he admitted was a combination of public servants and utilities.

During the report government officials and residents were urged to continue to be vigilant and prepared for any disaster, as there are others besides the volcano that can affect the territory.

Farewell Reception in honour of Savage – one more,  several before this

Gov reception (2)At the end of it all, Governor Frank Savage was special guest at a reception hosted by current Governor Adrian and Mrs. SuJue Davis at their residence in Woodlands. This was to say one probable last time, farewell to Governor Savage who said that every time he visited Montserrat, it was like coming home. “Coming back to Montserrat is like coming home…” he began his response to brief remarks by his host Governor Davis and Premier Reuben Meade, adding later, “I don’t like my own family like this, it’s like coming home to family

Meade was Chief Minister when the Governor arrived in Montserrat for duty in 1993 and during the time the volcano raised its devastating face in 1995. The Premier spoke of his days with the Governor and in particular during the crisis, recalling that today he would say he is one of the two or maybe three Governors he favours.

The former Governor responded, speaking briefly of the volcanic crisis and referred to some of the things the Premier said of their time during that period. “I’ve always said I can’t remember a cross word with Reuben. We both had the same agenda there were slightly different routes to get to the final destination…” he said.

AS to whether this time is his last, revealing that he had never drank Runway Ghaut water until this time. “I’ve never drank form Runaway Ghaut. Well today I did so you’ll probably never see me again,” he joked.

[vsw id=”Yx1Mc_7tCFQ” source=”youtube” width=”425″ height=”344″ autoplay=”no”]

He revealed that he regretfully lost time during the last ten years with his plan to write a book, explaining: “…the book about the eruption. There has been books, but nobody’s written the book about how Montserratians dealt with this crisis…”

Finally, “Thank you all for everything you did for us (his wife Veronica). I do continue to do what I can for Montserrat.” he concluded.

That was before he received the gift of a ‘Memento Magazine’ of newspaper (clippings) articles compiled by The Montserrat Reporter of stories during his time in office here. It will aid him tremendously in writing his book delivered on behalf of, as Richard Aspin, MC for the evening describes, “the longest serving committee in that number (that took part in the exercise) – the information and education committee…” He introduced: “…and there are still two surviving members from when it was set up nearly seventeen years ago, one of them is the president of the Frank Savage fan club, please give a warm welcome to Mr. Bennette Roach.”

I read the introduction of the booklet prefacing it with very brief comments on both the Governor and Premier’s brief remarks, and my own recollection of those early hectic and uncertain days.

Following the presentation of the book to Savage, Colin Fergus on behalf of the Royal Montserrat Defence Force also made a presentation. Fergus described, a “token of our appreciation for all the support and friendship which you have shown to the RMDF over the years and during the time as Commander in Chief.” He said it was a replacement for one he (Savage) received previously but must have misplaced.

The Emerald Community Singers entertained with specially selected repertoire songs, to end that section of the evening’s event.

Copies of the book are available on order from Montserrat Printing & Publishing Inc. through (The Montserrat Reporter).

 

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

by Bennette Roach

Gov Savage

Governor Frank Savage

The main disaster response agencies in Montserrat were tested last week in a simulation exercise called ‘Green Flash’.

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Former Governor Frank Savage served the island from 1993 to 1997 as the Governor. His experiences here created the opportunity for him to consult and teach on disaster management issues for the FCO and UK-based universities. He is officially retiring for active service for the FCO at the end of March 2013. He  was the organiser and chief planner for the disaster exercise. On Monday before the two-day exercise, he explained that it would be a simulation exercise, conducted within the DMCA, under his direction assisted by Toney Bates from the FCO and a team from the Pan American Health Organization, PAHO, led by Dr. Roselyn Bascom Adams.

“The exercise is designed to test the response of several agencies on island,” Governor Savage explained at the beginning, outlining further: “…it will be largely a simulation exercise, it will be conducted within the DMCA and all of the Montserratian players will be there making decisions based upon the evolving situation and we’ll be running them through seventy two hours of a simulated exercise program…” he told the media.  Bates speaks of plans since 2007

He noted that the difference of the exercise from previous was being joined by, “three colleagues form PAHO which I welcome and I appreciate PAHO giving us this resource. So in this particular exercise we’ll have three professionals who can look very closely how it is conducted and how health and hospital respond to this exercise.”

As planned the exercise (Operation Green Flash) was conducted over the two days, Tuesday and Wednesday, with all the simulations including media briefings and reporting. On Thursday Savage held a press briefing where accompanied by Bates and Adams he reported that the exercise was a success while weaknesses were discovered and recognized.

“…our unanimous conclusion when we sat down last night to assess the last two days the last two days, that it had been  a very worthwhile experience, that it had been a realistic exercise which had tested all the components of Montserrat’s disaster preparedness plan and we were struck by the enthusiasm  of all the participants and impressed with the high caliber of quite a large number of people making up the sub committees,” he said.

He lauded praise on the participants in the exercise and spoke of the weaknesses. “I think the strength as you’d expect in Montserrat is really the intellectual input that the majority of participants bring to the task. I mean I’ll praise Montserratians. You might not praise yourself but you’re among the best educated people in the Caribbean. when you set your minds to resolve a task, there are few other countries or territories who can bring that sort of intellectual approach,” he said. Savage commends exercise participants

Of the weaknesses, he said, “…in this particular case was lack of familiarity with the new plan, occasionally a little bit of obstinacy amongst one or two members…the old guard not always appreciating the new way of doing things and the second part of the exercise was a full drill quite a large drill,” explaining further and praising the youths. “…nineteen fantastic students from the Community College, they put an Oscar winning performance…”

Reporting with Savage was Tony Bates who pointed out that he had a dual role in the exercise. “I essentially had a dual role in this exercise, I was on the one hand an assessor and observer of the exercise. On the other hand I was also as far as possible exercising my own role in the situation that we were exercising which is hurricane situation. so I spent much of my time with the governor’s office coordinating what would be the UK government’s response to a hurricane both in the preparedness stage and the response stage…effectively we worked through what my systems would be in London to coordinate that response which involves drawing in a range of  organizations and agencies not just in the region but more widely such as in the UK, in Miami, in Bridgetown, in Montserrat of course,” he said.

The exercise chief commander had explained, “The test we give them was quite a demanding one, they didn’t know it but we reran hurricane Hugo. The 72-hour-period we give them to look at over a four hour period became more challenging each twenty four hours and we’re impressed…” he had said.

Meanwhile Dr. Bascom Adams from PAHO report her views on the exercise. She was involved in observing activities surrounding the hospital. “I think Montserrat on a whole would be pleased to know how well the health sector performed in the simulation exercise or the drill part of the exercise,” she began.

“…from a high level of staff, from the chief medical officer all the way down to the orderlies and the stretcher bearers, they were able to indicate great preparedness…that was clearly demonstrated,” she concluded.

The exercise which brought observers from PAHO, CEDEMA, Dutch St. Maarten as well as three from the FCO saw new committees, according to Savage,  “since we were here last…there is one covering Law Enforcement, police, ports, customs, shelters and welfare issues, recovery and damage assessment…” mostly he admitted was a combination of public servants and utilities.

During the report government officials and residents were urged to continue to be vigilant and prepared for any disaster, as there are others besides the volcano that can affect the territory.

Farewell Reception in honour of Savage – one more,  several before this

Gov reception (2)At the end of it all, Governor Frank Savage was special guest at a reception hosted by current Governor Adrian and Mrs. SuJue Davis at their residence in Woodlands. This was to say one probable last time, farewell to Governor Savage who said that every time he visited Montserrat, it was like coming home. “Coming back to Montserrat is like coming home…” he began his response to brief remarks by his host Governor Davis and Premier Reuben Meade, adding later, “I don’t like my own family like this, it’s like coming home to family

Meade was Chief Minister when the Governor arrived in Montserrat for duty in 1993 and during the time the volcano raised its devastating face in 1995. The Premier spoke of his days with the Governor and in particular during the crisis, recalling that today he would say he is one of the two or maybe three Governors he favours.

The former Governor responded, speaking briefly of the volcanic crisis and referred to some of the things the Premier said of their time during that period. “I’ve always said I can’t remember a cross word with Reuben. We both had the same agenda there were slightly different routes to get to the final destination…” he said.

AS to whether this time is his last, revealing that he had never drank Runway Ghaut water until this time. “I’ve never drank form Runaway Ghaut. Well today I did so you’ll probably never see me again,” he joked.

[vsw id=”Yx1Mc_7tCFQ” source=”youtube” width=”425″ height=”344″ autoplay=”no”]

He revealed that he regretfully lost time during the last ten years with his plan to write a book, explaining: “…the book about the eruption. There has been books, but nobody’s written the book about how Montserratians dealt with this crisis…”

Finally, “Thank you all for everything you did for us (his wife Veronica). I do continue to do what I can for Montserrat.” he concluded.

That was before he received the gift of a ‘Memento Magazine’ of newspaper (clippings) articles compiled by The Montserrat Reporter of stories during his time in office here. It will aid him tremendously in writing his book delivered on behalf of, as Richard Aspin, MC for the evening describes, “the longest serving committee in that number (that took part in the exercise) – the information and education committee…” He introduced: “…and there are still two surviving members from when it was set up nearly seventeen years ago, one of them is the president of the Frank Savage fan club, please give a warm welcome to Mr. Bennette Roach.”

I read the introduction of the booklet prefacing it with very brief comments on both the Governor and Premier’s brief remarks, and my own recollection of those early hectic and uncertain days.

Following the presentation of the book to Savage, Colin Fergus on behalf of the Royal Montserrat Defence Force also made a presentation. Fergus described, a “token of our appreciation for all the support and friendship which you have shown to the RMDF over the years and during the time as Commander in Chief.” He said it was a replacement for one he (Savage) received previously but must have misplaced.

The Emerald Community Singers entertained with specially selected repertoire songs, to end that section of the evening’s event.

Copies of the book are available on order from Montserrat Printing & Publishing Inc. through (The Montserrat Reporter).