Logistics Support System Training expected to improve national disaster response

According to Nicole Slack-Liburd, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, 20 participants trained in a Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)-sponsored Logistics Support System (LSS) Workshop from June 5 through 7, 2013 were expected to form part of the disaster response team at the national level and may have the opportunity to share their expertise at the regional and international levels.

At the opening of the two-and-half day workshop held at the Llewellyn Newton Disaster Management Facility, Liburd noted that PAHO had been a long-standing partner of the Ministry of Health and continued to provide technical assistance in a variety of areas in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, including emergency management.

She said over the last several years PAHO’s training in emergency management had taken the form of emergency care and treatment, mass casualty management, incident command systems and logistics support systems or LSS.

According to Lester Blackett, Director of the Nevis Disaster Management Department (NDMD), the LSS is computer software which allows its users to track items which come into a country, in the event of a disaster, from the port of entry to the actual distribution to the consumers of the items.

Micheal Greaves, Logistics Support System Instructor, who facilitated the course on behalf of PAHO, said the system was designed to promote transparency.

“The system is used not only in the Caribbean but it’s also used in South America. I took the system as far as Pakistan, 2006, for the earthquake. I’ve left there now seven years and I still get good reports that the system is up and working,” he said.

“We are not trying to attract items in a disaster. We are just trying to be accountable for the items that we deal with. That is the most important factor. Don’t think that the LSS will be able to tell you where all the material that come in in a disaster go. It will just tell you who we delivered it to and that’s the final step. We cannot account for anybody, any other store room, unless they have another LSS and they do their own distribution from that system.”

Liburd noted that the LSS training was also designed to improve the management of humanitarian supplies at the national level.

“We heard…about the importance that this system brings with regard to transparency and accountability. It is, therefore, important that there is an effective delivery mechanism applied that will ensure that the supplies arriving in a country post-hurricane, earthquake or as a result of any other hazard be distributed to persons in need,” she said.

“Far too often supplies identified for those in greatest need never make it to their destination, hence the importance of a workshop such as this, which will at least enhance the success of this…We cannot guarantee delivery but we can ensure that it is improved.”

According to Blackett, the workshop attracted persons from several government, humanitarian and faith-based sectors of the community—including the Hospital Administration, the Health Promotion Unit, the Supply Office, Customs, Agriculture, Finance, Trade, Information Technology, Red Cross and, the Adventist Disaster Relief Agency (ADRA)—who would help to strengthen the disaster management capacity on the island.

The Permanent Secretary of Health said she hoped the exercise would have been informative and beneficial not only at the level of disaster management but also for the participants’ personal development.

“We have quite a bit of knowledge in disaster management in this room. Many of you have gone through repeated trainings…and I think we have experts right here on Nevis in a variety of areas and so I am counting on all of you to support this exercise and be available in times of need in response to disaster management,” she said.

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