[www.inewsguyana.com] – The Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) located at Timehri was officially handed over to Secretary of the Defence Board and National Disaster Coordinator, Dr. Roger Luncheon who along with Lieutenant Commander Robert Novotny, Commander U.S. Military Liaison Office unveiled the plaque to commission the facility.
This US$1.2 state-of-the-art facility is intended to serve as the Alternate National Emergency Operations Centre for emergency management. It was constructed within the confines of the Guyana Defence Force Base Camp Stephenson at Timehri, adjacent to the Disaster Response Warehouse which provides storage and distribution of relief supplies.
Guyana is in the process of developing a system of regional EOC, and has recently completed the development of regional standard operating procedures for emergency management throughout the country.
The US Southern Command Civil Military Assistance Division, Humanitarian Assistance Programme collaborates with National Disaster Response Agencies to improve the capabilities and capacities of partner nations to respond to disasters. Through this programme, the country received support to construct the facility.
Dr. Luncheon, who delivered the featured address, acknowledged that the country’s engagement with its bilateral developmental partners has grown significantly, and commended all those who were a part of this project.
He prefaced his remarks by recognising the role of the military, noting that is no coincidence that both the original EOC and this alternate centre has a physical nexus with military bases, Camp Ayanganna and Camp Stephenson. He recognised the significant role that the joint services play in staffing and more importantly in responding to emergencies in Guyana.
“So indeed my friends what we are witnessing today can perhaps be seen and accepted as a culmination of efforts and culmination of ambitions of responses to a realm of recognised national objectives, and a culmination that reflects the collaboration, integration and coordination of these many players that I recognised,” Dr. Luncheon pointed out.
He reflected on the 2005 and 2006 floods, noting that persons must recognise that Guyana is not isolated and that all over the world, natural disasters and manmade disasters afflict humanity. He said that Guyana is part of the groundswell of this issue.
He highlighted that the EOC must be seen as Guyana’s contribution to the totality of responses to disasters.
“The fact that in 2015, we have arrived at this signal moment, in collaboration with the internal and external stakeholders for Guyana to be a member and to have developed those instruments to make it more resilient to the ravages of disaster is noteworthy,” Dr Luncheon explained.
The building will also be used for training and Dr Luncheon said that it is hoped that the facility and what it offers to build capacity not only for Guyana, can play a greater role in the inter-regional coordination and integration of disaster relief and management.
Meanwhile, Commander Novotny stated that the US and the Guyana Governments share a common interest in increasing capability to respond to natural disasters and emergencies.
Guyana also benefited from response training that included persons from the joint services, the Red Cross and the Ministry of Health, and seminars and workshops were also held to enhance capability for a more effective response to disasters.
A total of 51 students received training in this regard over the past two weeks. The design of the building was prepared by the US Army Corps of Engineers, and the contract for the construction was awarded to Studies Edification Intervention and Engineering, South America.
Construction of the concrete masonry unit commenced in 2012, and was completed on September 09, 2014. The facility is equipped with an office for the EOC Director, operations conference, public information room and Press rooms, a communication room inclusive of server room and technical officer room, mechanical and electrical room, storage and dining room, kitchen, and a small dormitory. The building is fully air conditioned and its design includes a stand-by generator, water pump and an elevated water storage facility.
Present at the event also were Chief-of-Staff, of the GDF, Brigadier Mark Phillips, Retired Colonel Chabilall Ramsarup, CDC Director General, and Francis Abraham, Deputy Director General, CDC. [Extracted and modified from GINA]