Seychelles assesses emergency preparedness for main port and airport
The aim of the exercises was to identify gaps and limitations. (Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority)
There is a need for command posts at the Victoria Port and Mahe International Airport to shift from an operational to a management mindset when dealing with emergencies, said an officer of Seychelles' Disaster Risk Management Division (DRMD).
The chief risk management officer, Daniel Cetoupe, made the statement on Friday, after two days of emergency preparedness tabletop exercises at the port and airport.
Following the operationalisation of Seychelles' National Integrated Emergency Management plan, DRMD has identified a series of plans that need to be relooked at. The priority is the port and the airport given the economic importance they have for the country as the two entry points.
Cetoupe told SNA that they are re-looking at their plans to make it a national one.
"The internal plans and procedures of these two places are okay, but the problem lies in how responders connect with their plans," he said.
DRMD in collaboration with the World Bank, supported the Seychelles Ports Authority (SPA) and the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) with the review of the National Port and Airport Emergency Plan, which took place from June 20-23. The partners involved undertook two days of training and tabletop exercises.
The consultant from the World Bank in risk management, disaster, and alert system, Darmen Ellayah, shared that the plan needs to be a strong one as Seychelles is exposed to risks and has only one international airport and port.
|The exercise with the Seychelles Ports Authority. (Seychelles Ports Authority) Photo License: CC-BY|
"As Seychelles is also far from other countries, waiting for foreign assistance will take more time. As such, it is important that all local partners become more resilient to deal with emergencies," said Ellayah.
On both days at the Silver Level, the port and the airport had to deal with an artificial emergency scenario.
The aim of the exercises was to identify gaps and limitations, as well as assess how the different partners understand and undertake their roles and responsibilities under the emergency plan.
"We still have some challenges in the sense that people see themselves as being more operational rather than making decisions. We have a tendency during emergency to respond to an emergency, rather than manage it," said Cetoupe.
He added that "we are looking at how they take collective decisions and not the operation itself in response to the emergency. They need to set their priorities, and objectives, and identify the resources they need to manage all this, as well as how the flow of communication needs to take place at the Silver Level to the Platinum Level. There is the need for such exercises to be conducted more often so that the participants can better work together."
Seychelles adopted the Integrated Emergency Management System which has four levels of emergency management. At the Bronze Level, are the first responders, at Silver Level there - are the command posts. The National Emergency Operation Centre is at the Gold Level and at the Platinum Level brings together ministers.