Hurricane Exercise ‘Neo’ Tests Emergency Response Readiness
Representatives of the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) convened on 9 June for the annual National Hurricane Exercise, which tests the national emergency response mechanism.
The emergency drill brings together representatives of the 18 NEOC Emergency Support Teams and the Policy Group, which are activated in the event of a hurricane threat or impact.
“The exercise is an opportunity to practice before an impact occurs, identify gaps and areas for improvement and to ensure members of the NEOC are familiar with their roles in the national response mechanism,” explained Dani Coleman, Director of Hazard Management Cayman Islands (HMCI).
The exercise was held in the NEOC located in the Government Administration Building and this year the scenario was called ‘Hurricane Neo.’
The exercise began at 9 am with opening remarks from the Chairman of the National Hazard Management Council Hon. Franz Manderson who noted that, “having gone through an extended NEOC activation in 2020 for the pandemic, the structure was already operating efficiently and effectively.”
Mr. Manderson thanked the participants for their ongoing commitment, which he described as critical to keeping residents safe in a crisis.
Director General of the Cayman Islands National Weather Service John Tibbetts provided a quick review of 2020 hurricane season and the forecast outlook for 2021. The main part of the hurricane exercise then got underway with participants considering various emergency scenarios.
Ms. Coleman explained, “A typical table-top exercise involves key personnel discussing simulated scenarios in an informal setting and it can be a very useful tool for assessing policies and procedures. The scenario provided a reasonably realistic depiction of a hurricane on approach, the impact and post impact and gave us an opportunity to examine our response mechanism.”
The exercise concluded in the afternoon with a review and with the Emergency Support Teams and NOEC Cluster Managers making a number of recommendations for adjustments and updates to the National Hazard Management Plan.