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National Security Minister Stuart Young hands over relief equipment to a member of the T&T Fire Services at the National Emergency Operations Centre in Mausica.

Around $9.2 million worth of disaster relief equipment will be distributed across eight organisations in the coming weeks. The organisations include government ministries and agencies such as the T&T Defence Force and the T&T Police Service.

At a hand-over ceremony yesterday at the National Emergency Operations Centre in Mausica, Chief Executive Officer of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM), Retired Major General Rodney Smart, explained these agencies are traditionally required to collect relief equipment from its warehouse. He said while this system has its merits, it is time-consuming.

“This initiative, therefore, allows agencies to be more responsive and in a better position to relieve persons who would have suffered from the devastating effects of a hazard,” he said.

National Security Minister Stuart Young said the need for this new system came to light during the devastating floods in Greenvale in 2018 when agencies were scrambling to get resources distressed residents.

The minister said $2.4 million of the equipment, including fuel containers, full-body harnesses and hand-cranked portable generators, will be given to the Ministry of Rural Development and Local Development, while the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries will get fire blankets, axes and containers totalling $73,000.

The health sector will get approximately $263,000 worth of equipment. In addition, regional health authorities will be provided with $345,000 in items, including walking sticks, bedpans and bio-hazard waste bags.

With the coronavirus spreading to more countries, Young assured that Government has been planning and deploying resources while taking advice from the experts.

Young said the ODPM plays a very important role in this effort while the National Security Ministry is assisting the Ministry of Health and will continue to do so through first responders.

Tobago was not forgotten as the Tobago Emergency Management Agency will receive $637,000 in relief tools.

The T&T Fire Service is set to receive the bulk of equipment such as biohazard waste bags, fire blankets, high-performance chemical suits and rescue rope ladders.

Tobago was not forgotten as the Tobago Emergency Management Agency will receive $637,000 in relief tools.

The initiative was timely, said Local Government Minister Kazim Hosein, given the level of flooding being experienced across the country in recent years.

“I can rest a little easier with the implementation of this initiative that will improve the efficiency and delivery of relief items to those affected by natural disasters,” he said.

Smart said more initiatives are in the pipeline to ensure T&T’s readiness for any eventuality. He said the agency will be meeting with volunteers on Saturday to discuss the establishment of an unmanned aerial vehicle club.

A Prepared T&T project is also expected to be launched soon with the pilot project expected to kick off in Port-of-Spain.