Members of the Eastern Division Communication Center, comprised of a team of twenty-three, nine-one-one dispatchers were participants in a one-day workshop organized in conjunction with the City Emergency Management Organization (CEMO), the Meteorological Service and the Ministry of Health.  The focus of the seminar was disaster preparedness.  Since being established a few years ago CEMO, headed by former councilor Wayne Usher, has been actively engaging the relevant agencies in an effort to devise an effective disaster preparedness strategy.  News Five spoke with Acting Director of the Communications Center is Eaton Williams.

Eaton Williams, Acting Director, Communications Center

“With all the negative things that are in the news these days pertaining to the police department, we just wanted to invite the media out today to show that there are positive things happening within the police department primarily at the police communication center. We saw it fit for this workshop to happen today. It is one of many workshops that we plan to undertake during the course of this year to better equip our communication officers in terms of handling crisis situations. We have Mister Wayne Usher from CEMO doing this presentation for us; we also have representatives from Belize Red Cross; we had representative from the Met Office as well as from the Psychiatric Unit of the Ministry of Health here to better equip us with dealing with crisis situations, maintaining our cool and that sort of thing.”

Isani Cayetano

“One example that readily comes to mind is the thunder storm of last Thursday…I believe you guys had to kick into full gear in terms of taking control of the situation of the power failure. Can you talk to us about the work that the 911 dispatchers do?”

Eaton Williams

Eaton Williams

“Well we, whenever anyone calls the 911, we have operators on duty twenty-four hours—public and back holidays, during crisis management; whenever we have active 911 operators on duty. An operator would take a call from a complainant and we would dispatch a respective emergency personnel to deal with the situation—be it police, BERT personnel, fire department, B.E.L., coast guard and that sort of thing. As long as it is for response, we will dispatch the relevant authorities.”

Isani Cayetano

“Does this workshop also address mass crowds? For instance like if something were to happen during the carnival road march for instance. Does this kind of preparedness gear you guys up for something like that?”

Eaton Williams

“Most definitely because there is where the lady from the Ministry of Health comes in. She told us how to maintain our cool, how to keep calm whenever hectic situations arise; they taught our operators how to think straight and also not to get flustered. We are human and we get flustered at times. And that was the main reason why we invited the lady from Ministry of Health to come in and help us to prepare to maintain these kind of situations.”

Channel 5