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Students told: Stay alert

Published: 
Saturday, March 21, 2015
Natural disaster forum...
Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Local Government Eric James presents Robert Ngui of St Anthony’s College with his certificate during the St Anthony's College Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) graduation ceremony at the Guardian Life Atrium in Westmoorings on Wednesday. PHOTO: MARCUS GONZALES

Student volunteers from St Anthony’s College have been told to keep on the alert for impending catastrophic natural disasters, particularly earthquakes, hurricanes and floodings.

Earl Hernandez, chief disaster management co-ordinator of the Ministry of Local Government, pleaded with the participants when the Diego Martin Regional Corporation (DMRC) Disaster Management Unit hosted a graduation ceremony for 37 students of the Diego Martin-based college, who formed a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) last year.

The ceremony was held on Wednesday at the Guardian Life head office, Westmoorings.

St Anthony’s CERT comprises select students and teachers and is the first at any secondary school in T&T.

They received certificates and disaster response kits at the graduation, nearly one year after completing a series of exercises in disaster preparedness, tree cutting, the use of first aid techniques, the use of heavy equipment, including backhoes, as well as other skills and techniques.

Extensive training for the programme was provided by the DMRC, the Red Cross Society and the T&T Fire Services. 

The students are now expected to voluntarily respond to emergencies such as major earthquakes and hurricanes, which according to Hernandez, this country is long overdue for.

The purpose for the training was to help with official emergency responders, who would otherwise be unable to respond to all affected, in the event of a natural disaster.

Hernandez, who is also the director of disaster at the T&T Red Cross Society, and has provided humanitarian aid in several countries affected by catastorophies, including Haiti (2010 earthquake), Chile (mining accident), USA (2011 terror attacks) and others.

Hernandez said although many are hiding from the realities of a massive disaster, citizens of this country must be prepared in the event of an earthquake in particular, one he believes is imminent. 

“Every day since 2014, that entire plate has been active. Just this morning (yesterday), there were three earthquakes off Puerto Rico and one off the Dominican Republic. As a disaster manager, that tells me, it’s coming. God ain’t no Trini. Let us forget that,” Hernandez said, adding: “Every year, warmer water is now coming down to South America. I know, as a disaster manager, one day the warm water will bring a hurricane category one, two, three or five.”

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