VITEMA, on Thursday, held the first ever Maritime Emergency Planning Workshop, bringing together representatives of the cruise line industry, key federal agencies, local first responders and emergency managers for a strategic level discussion on responding to a ship emergency resulting in mass casualty and evacuation.
Attending the workshop were representatives of VITEMA, WICO, Royal Caribbean, FEMA-Caribbean Area Division, FEMA-Region II’s Defense Coordinating Office, US Coast Guard, US Custom and Border Patrol, Roy Lester Schneider Hospital, VI Port Authority, the University of the
Virgin Islands, St. Thomas Rescue, and the departments of Police, Human Services, Tourism and Health.
“The purpose of the workshop was to promote an open dialogue between VITEMA, the cruise line industry and other stakeholders, with the intent of identifying areas in our current capabilities and plans where improvement is needed,” said VITEMA Director Mona Barnes. “It’s a huge task for us to manage a major cruise ship incident that puts our community and visitors at risk. The only way to do it effectively is through collaboration.”
During the workshop, facilitators held a tabletop exercise featuring two scenarios – a fire onboard a cruise ship docked at WICO that injures 75 passengers and crew and a biohazard incident that exacerbates hospital capabilities. Participants discussed local responder communications with the dock and cruise ship officials, medical care and evacuation of the injured, and feeding and sheltering evacuated passengers.
“Our goal is to develop an annex to our Territorial Emergency Operations Plan specifically addressing maritime incidents, taking into consideration the shortfalls and gaps uncovered during the workshop,” Barnes said.
The workshop was facilitated by Philip Parr II and William Hines of LLP Consulting. Parr, the senior consultant, has 35 years of experience including 23 years as a FEMA senior Federal Coordinating Officer (FCO). An FCO is designated by the President of the United through FEMA and is responsible for leading federal response recovery and mitigation operations to presidentially declared
disasters and emergencies. He held leadership roles in the federal response to hurricanes Sandy and Katrina.
Hines is a retired Battalion Chief of the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) with more than 36 years of experience in emergency service and emergency management. His FDNY career spans 27 years where he worked in some of the most demanding areas in New York City. He has responded and operated at a wide range of incidents and emergencies, which included fires, medical emergencies, building collapses, rail incidents, hazardous materials and terrorist events.
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