Published: Aug 24, 2013
Information dissemination is vitally important during times of crisis within any country. The Bahamas is no exception. What is also important is to have one central location within a localized area and one national location where members of the public can gather information to have their concerns addressed and their fears allayed.
During a serious hurricane years ago I was somewhat disappointed that the national disaster preparedness team did not deem it necessary to cause all emergency calls from the public to be directed to one familiar telephone number namely 911. And so, all calls to police, all calls to the hospital, all calls to BEC and all calls to the NEMA emergency line could all have been addressed in the most efficient manner to alleviate any hysteria that could have been produced by people not knowing the appropriate number to call.
I am sure that setting up a simple (or sophisticated) telephone relay system and an increase in manpower would have been necessary to accomplish this. But, this is crisis time. And the government should have had those facets to disaster preparedness and response in place long before a hurricane hits The Bahamas.
Dissemination of mass information to engender calm and rationality in the populace before, during and after the storm is of paramount importance. And during that hurricane, I certainly commend the government for doing an exceptional job of dispensing information to cause Bahamians to follow procedures to ensure their safety. I was fortunate enough to have followed one of the instructions in particular, which was to have ready access to a battery-operated radio. If I didn’t, then I would have fallen into a category of people who would have tied up the emergency lines.
And so, my advice to the government would be to bring legislation to Parliament which would have the impact of mandating that all households in The Bahamas have ready access (within each house) to a functioning battery-operated radio during the entire hurricane season. It would be the law. Although, householders don’t have to listen to the radio at all. But at least they would be presented with the option. Attendant to that law should be a punishment that the owner or renter be fined no less than $50 and no more than $100 for disobeying the law.
The government cannot force individuals to listen to government dispersed information. However, it can make it as readily accessible as possible.
Marvin G. Lightbourn