As part of this year's hurricane preparedness activity, PAHO helped organize and participated in the UN inter-agency hurricane simulation exercise in Barbados this week. The activity, which started on 9 May and culminated on 12 May, aimed at validating the emergency preparedness and response plans of the various UN agencies. It also tested the effectiveness of mechanisms meant to coordinate the response of the different sectors and agencies in emergency situations.
PAHO, along with UNDP, UNICEF, UN Women, UNFPA, FAO, and ITU, simulated a devastating hurricane scenario which impacted the islands of Barbados and Saint Lucia. During this exercise, PAHO's Caribbean sub-regional office for the Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief Department in Barbados took the opportunity to test its response mechanism, including those with the Emergency Operation Center (EOC) in Washington DC and its country counterparts in the different countries. The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and the Global Affairs Canada (formerly Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development) also participated in the activity. The exercise resulted in a number of lessons learned and identified best practices which will feed into the revision of the UN agencies' Business Continuity Plans (BCPs) and emergency response plans to ensure staff and dependent's safety, protect UN property and ensure rapid response to assist authorities where needed.