Arriving on Tuesday 17 June 2014 was Interim Emergency Planner Alistair Smith (photo attached). Alistair is on Island until 22 December 2014 to temporarily fill the Disaster Management role previously carried out by Disaster Management Executive Kevin Hornett.
Alistair’s primary aim while here will be to further develop the way we think about disaster planning, refocusing on contingencies and planning for emergencies.
“Disaster management focuses on dealing with matters after an incident has actually happened. Emergency Planning is about building resilience, identifying systems and processes and having them in place before a crisis actually occurs – it’s a subtle shift towards what we’re trying to achieve and what works best for the Island.”
The current National Disaster Management plan will now be operationalised and rolled out across the various parts of SHG, other service providers and the general public to raise awareness of the plan – advising people what their role is, what they need to do in the event of an emergency and where they fit in. This will also cover what they might be asked to do and what they should expect to receive in terms of services.
Putting this Emergency Plan into operation will involve extensive stakeholder engagement through public meetings and the media. Keeping everyone updated as the plan develops is very important. And the Emergency Plan is not only about the Airport – it will take into account a raft of issues that could affect the Island and her community.
“Recognising the full range of risks, those that exist today and those that will come with the Airport, we will develop a workable plan that will enable emergency services and Government to respond effectively and efficiently to any scenario that arises.”
Legislative Council has been briefed on what Alistair will be doing while here and his next steps are to expand on the work already in place and the capabilities on the Island, to understand how best an emergency plan should be drafted.
“The key here is about working with people to develop a plan that will stand the test of time.”
Over the coming weeks Alistair will be visiting various sites and meeting different organisations, gathering information on what works well and what doesn’t. This will be an ongoing process to set the basics for a plan which will be continually reviewed and updated against the risks as seen. Having a national emergency plan in place is fundamental for the Island as there are risks here that need to be acknowledged.
“Having a plan is the starting point. It doesn’t necessarily take away the fact that scenarios will differ but it’s a good foundation on which to act and respond to any crisis that occurs.”
Alistair has a wealth of experience in emergency planning. Prior to coming to St Helena he completed 30 years with Surrey Police. For eight years he was an Inspector and the last seven were spent with the Force Planning Resources Team, where Alistair had responsibility for emergency planning, operational planning, force resources and force duties for the Surrey Police.
“The Island is great. You soon realise how far you are from the rest of the world but many of the challenges here are the same as you would expect back home. Obviously it’s on a different scale with special local variations, but in essence it’s very similar.
“I’ve been made to feel very welcome, it’s a beautiful place and I’m keen to get around and see a bit more. Hopefully when I leave I’ll take away some great memories, and will have contributed something to the Island’s safety.”
24 June 2014