Stakeholders engaged on radiological emergency preparedness

DPI, Guyana, Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Key stakeholders have been engaged in a radiation desktop simulation exercise to ensure Guyana is prepared to respond to radiological emergencies. The practice session took place on November 27, at the Health Emergency Operations Centre.

Some of the participants of the simulation exercise.

Spearheading the simulation was the PAHO/WHO office in Guyana, Civil Defence Commission (CDC) and the Ministry of Public Health. The one-day exercise also sought to determine the country’s coordinating ability among technical agencies to respond to a potential national radiation-based emergency.

This comes even as the need for a stronger response mechanism regarding radiology emergencies and its effects on the health of people’s health have been cited. Raynell Gordon, a Radiographer at the ministry, speaking on behalf of Public Health Minister, Hon. Volda Lawrence, noted the timeliness of such an exercise.

Raynell Gordon, Radiographer at the Ministry of Public Health.

“It is through these activities, the stakeholders involved in responding to a radiological emergency will learn and continually improve and implement robust emergency preparedness and response plan that can better anticipate and mitigate the negative consequences of a radiological emergency,” Gordon explained.

Added to this, he encouraged participants to have, “candid discussions in response to the scripted radiological emergency scenarios. After all, those responses will impinge on and determine the effectiveness and efficiency of the country’s radiation emergency plan.”

Prior to 2014, when the Cabinet mandated that a technical committee look at the management of radioactive materials, Jamaica guided Guyana to ensure an emergency response mechanism was in place in this regard. In 2015, the committee was formed. From this committee, a plan was drafted which is being presented to stakeholders for them to become familiar with

PAHO/WHO has also engaged the state on the resuscitation of the (now) National Committee on Radiation Emergencies since it has been inactive for two years.

Senior Response Officer of the Civil Defence Commission (CDC), Captain Salim October.

The Senior Response Officer of the CDC, Captain Salim October said “today’s exercise should be viewed as an opportunity to learn and make contributions to expand on the draft plan. It is necessary to ensure that all gaps are identified and are addressed expeditiously and that all agencies will ensure continued collaboration.”

Among activities at the one-day simulation exercise, stakeholders examined the scope of the plan, roles and functions of key response agencies, inter-agency communication, guiding principles and procedures including monitoring, detection, alerting, notification among other things.