Emergency Management Agency

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The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) is a government agency which operates under the authority of Cabinet Office.

An organization that anticipates the potential negative impacts of disasters and emergency situations and develops effective and efficient plans, procedures and systems to minimize such impacts, by relying on sound principles of Disaster Management, community participation and interagency collaboration.

We believe that:

  1. The goal of the Office of Disaster Preparedness is to preserve human life in times of crisis.
  2. Effective Disaster Management depends upon the consistent coordination and integration of the work of many agencies, organizations and individuals.
  3. A community that is well prepared for hazards of all kinds will survive and recover quickly from disasters.
  4. Excellent service must be provided to the community before, during and after a disaster or emergency.
  5. Flexibility and adaptability of approach must be the basis of the delivery of disaster management services.
  6. Staff commitment, capacity, teamwork and motivation will be the primary contributors to the organization’s success.

To reduce loss of life and properly within the Commonwealth of The Bahamas by ensuring that adequate preparedness and mitigation measures and response and recovery mechanisms are established to counteract the impact of natural and technological hazards.

Disaster Management is the overall function of this agency. We strive to efficiently and effectively administer the components of the country’s Disaster Management Programme for which we are responsible. These include:

  • Mitigation planning
  • Community preparedness
  • Public information and
  • Recovery coordination

These are administered in accordance with relevant legislation, government policy and public accountability requirements.

  • The General Public
  • Non-Governmental Organizations
  • Family Island Disaster Management Committees
  • Government Departments and Agencies
  • External Agencies

We serve the public and private corporations and residents with our expertise in:

 

  • Assessing your existing emergency plans
  • Planning and implementing disaster policies, including:
  • Preparedness
  • Mitigation
  • Response
  • Recovery
  • Provision of training for thorough Damage and Need Assessment and Resource Management
  • Designing, implementing, and training for Disaster Management.
  • Disaster research and investigation to determine what lessons can be learned and how future emergency policies can be modified.
  • Facilitating training for Incident Command System (ICS) to strengthen the ability to organize disaster areas and establish Unified Command Systems.
  • Provision of training for Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) operations/management;
  • Development and implementation of Comprehensive Emergency Management/Safety/Business Continuity programmes
  • Development of educational programmes customized to specific hazards for the public and for employees.

Although we are called the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) during its activation, NEMA does not perform the duties of partners who are also involved in disaster management. We do not physically:

  • Respond to oil spills, fires, damaged water mains, power outages, medical emergencies, traffic accidents, explosions or other emergencies.

Staff of NEMA ensures delivery of the following standards of service, as a minimum, to our clients and stakeholders.

If You Visit Us:

  • You will find staff courteous and helpful
  • We aim to give you assistance within 5 minutes of your arrival at a service point.
  • You will be put in touch with the appropriate person with the minimum of delay. If waiting for service you will be acknowledged courteously and advised of possible waiting periods.
  • You can expect staff to have the knowledge, authority and responsibility to deal with your enquiries or to be able to refer you to someone who has.

If You Call Us:

  • Your telephone calls will be answered within the fifth ring during normal office hours (9:00am – 5:00pm) with the office identified.
  • You can expect us to acknowledge or respond to telephone messages as soon as possible and at latest by the next working day.
  • If we are not able to answer your query immediately, we will take your contact details to ensure you get a response.

If You Write To Us:

  • We will acknowledge or reply to your written request as soon as possible, and at latest, within 5 working days of receipt.
  • Our written communications to you will be in clear and simple language, addressing the issue directly and including relevant contact details.
  • We will tell you to whom we have referred your matter, if it is outside our responsibility.

Providing Public Information:

  • We will always provide basic information on hazards
  • We will respond to request for printed information, reference material or publications within 5 working days of receipt.
  • We provide up-to-date information and recommendations to enable decision makers to establish or improve emergency policies.
  • We provide advice on Resource Management in emphasizing working together, developing plans, guidelines, agreements, and provide training for mutual aid.

Charges for Service:

  • Where costs are involved, you will be advised in advance.

There are some things you can do that will help us to help you:

  • Seek our assistance only in those matters for which we are responsible.
  • Tell us precisely what services you want from us so that we can direct you quickly to the appropriate officer.
  • You may be asked to provide information to enable us to assist you.
  • Provide the required information as soon as practicable.
  • Honour commitments to scheduled meetings and appointments.
  • Treat our staff with courtesy and respect.
  • Make suggestions as to how we can improve our services to you.
  • Provide feedback on the relevance and effectiveness of programmes.
  • Take responsibility for your own and the community safety by accepting our advice.

How can we improve our service

We will be responsive to your needs and ideas and welcome your comments in order to help us improve our service. If you have a comment let us know by one or more of the following methods:

  • Discuss the matter with a member of staff who will assist you or refer you to the appropriate officer.
  • Write to, E-mail or phone the National Disaster Coordinator.

 

If you have a Complaint

There is a procedure to deal with formal complaints:

  • When advised of a formal complaint the National Disaster Coordinator of NEMA will make every effort to contact you within 24 hours, and certainly within 3 working days.
  • The National Disaster Coordinator will investigate your complaint and advise you of the outcome as soon as possible.
  • If you are not pleased with our response, you may write to Secretary to the Cabinet and expect a full response within 14 days.

Checking our performance

We welcome you comments on how successful we are in achieving the standards set out in this Charter. We will:

  • Monitor and evaluate our products and services against the standards we have set in this Charter, to see if we are meeting those standards.
  • Formally review the standards set out in this charter at least once a year and adjust them in light of your comments, and informally review them during the year in response to ongoing changes.
  • Publish the results of the review in our annual report.

 

Help us to improve this Charter

 

This Charter is being developed through a consultative process with our clients and staff. Your comments on how we might improve this Charter are important to us and we welcome your views on it.

We will use your comments to ensure that the products and services we provide are of the highest standard and that our Charter reflects this accurately. We appreciate your efforts to help us to serve you better.

 

The National Emergency Management Agency is located Gladstone Road, Nassau, The Bahamas. Our office hours are 9:00 am to 5:00p.m. Monday to Friday, except public holidays.

Postal Address:

The National Emergency Management Agency

Cabinet Office

P.O. Box N-7147

Nassau, N.P.,

The Bahamas

General Enquiries

Tel:  (242) 322-6081/5

Fax: (242) 326-5456

Email nema@bahamas.gov.bs

Website www.bahamas.gov.bs/nema

In order to help you understand more clearly what is involved in the work of NEMA, the following information is provided on Disaster Management concepts:

  • Disaster Management

A collective term encompassing all aspects of planning for and responding to disasters, including both pre-and post-disaster activities. It may refer to the management of both risks and consequences of disaster.

  • Disaster

A disaster is a serious disruption of the functioning of a society, causing widespread human, material, or environmental losses, which exceed the ability of the affected society to cope using only its own resources. Disasters are often classified according to their speed of onset (sudden or slow) or according to their cause (natural or man-made).

  • Hazards:

 

CLASS

NATURAL

MAN-INDUCED

Rapid

Onset

·           Floods

·           Hurricanes

·           Landslides

·           Tornadoes

·           Tsunamis

·           Fires/Explosions

·           Technological Accidents

·           Industrial Accidents

·           Transportation Accidents

·           Oil Spills

       Slow

Onset

·           Droughts

·           Epidemics

·           Famines

·           Civil Strife

A hazard is a rare or extreme event in the natural or man-made environment that adversely affects human life, property or activity to the extent of causing a disaster.

  • Vulnerability

 

The vulnerability of a building, a population, or an entire country is measured by how susceptible it is to harm or loss in the face of a hazard.

  • Risk

Risk is expected loss (lives lost, persons injured, damage to property and disruption of economic activity) due to a particular hazard. Risk is the product of hazard and vulnerability.

 

  • Alert

The notice issued indicating that specific precautions should be taken because of the probability or proximity of a dangerous event.

  • Mitigation

Any sustained action taken to reduce long-term vulnerability of human life and property to natural or man-made hazards. Mitigation activities would involve for example, sea defence walls to protect the coastline from wave action, building houses away from flood prone areas, adherence to the building regulations to design and construct buildings to withstand hurricanes.

  • Preparedness

Measures taken to reduce to the minimum level possible, the loss of human lives and other damage, through the organizing of prompt and effective actions of response and rehabilitation.

Effective preparedness enables communities and institutions to provide a quick, organized response to disasters. Disaster Preparedness is designed to minimize loss of life and damage, to organize the temporary removal of people and property from a threatened location, and to facilitate timely and effective rescue, relief and rehabilitation. Public information and ongoing training activities are necessary to create a “culture” of Disaster Preparedness.

  • Response

Actions carried out in a disaster situation with the objective to save live, alleviate suffering and reduce economic losses.

  • Rehabilitation

The restoration of basic services and the beginning of the repair of physical, social and economic damage.

 

  • Reconstruction

The medium and long term repair of physical, social and economic damage, and the return of affected structures to a condition equal to or better than before the disaster:

e.g. Actions would include construction of permanent housing, full restoration of all services, and complete resumption to the pre-disaster state.

 

Factors that contribute to the vulnerability of communities and societies to the impacts of hazards are:

  • Lack of Public Awareness and Information
  • Environmental Degradation
  • Poverty
  • Population Growth
  • Rapid Urbanization
  • Changes in cultural practices

War and Civil strife

  • Mitigation Planning & Research:

This involves the assessment of various hazards such as hurricanes, flooding, landslide, etc, which are likely to affect The Bahamas. This information provides the public sector with the ability to develop appropriate hazard mitigation strategies and measures in order to prevent or reduce the occurrence of a disaster in the country. Public sector agencies and individuals within the community are responsible for the implementation of hazard mitigation activities in order to protect life and property.

  • Community Preparedness:

This area deals with preparing the community for disaster/emergency situations. This is done using community involvement in disaster management, where each individual in the Territory has the opportunity to contribute to plans and decision-making.

  • Public Information:

This activity seeks to reduce disaster vulnerability, by increasing the public’s awareness, understanding and capability to anticipate and cope with the extreme conditions of hazards and their disastrous effects. This is achieved mainly through training and public education programmes, and the dissemination of information to the public.

  • Recovery Coordination:

Recovery encompasses all those measures necessary to re-establish a stable social, physical and economic basis to a community affected by a disaster. This function requires NEMA to provide support for Government coordination where possible.

  • Inter Agency Coordination:

NEMA works closely with a wide range of emergency related services to ensure the highest level of coordination in preparedness and response capabilities in the country.

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