HomeGeneral NewsNEMA Utilises Drones in Caribe Wave Exercise for the First Time

NEMA Utilises Drones in Caribe Wave Exercise for the First Time

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Basseterre, St. Kitts, 27 March, 2024 (NEMA): For the first time ever, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) utilised unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), also known as drones, to monitor and assess this year’s CARIBE WAVE Exercise.

CARIBE WAVE is a tsunami response exercise that takes place in the region annually on March 21. It can take several forms. This year, an evacuation drill was conducted in the Dieppe Bay to Saddlers area. The use of drones allowed officials to monitor the activity over a wider area and collect data that would help evaluators assess the performance of participants. CARIBE WAVE 24 Planning Coordinator, Oureika Lennon-Petty, spoke of the significance of having a bird’s-eye view of the exercise as it unfolded.

“We posted team members at two carefully selected locations and could see what was going on both in the village and at the assembly point with the drones. With several schools taking part in the exercise, we thought this would give us the advantage of being able to see if something went wrong and to get assistance where it needed to be quickly. It also allowed us to see if things were going as they should,” Mrs. Lennon-Petty disclosed.

Two drones were in operation on that day – a drone donated to NEMA by the humanitarian organization Global Support and Development (GSD) and one from the St. Kitts Electricity Company (SKELEC). They were operated by a member of the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Department and SKELEC, respectively, with representatives from NEMA, the St. Kitts and Nevis Customs and Excise Department, the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force, Her Majesty’s Prison, the St. Kitts and Nevis Fire and Rescue Services, the St. Kitts and Nevis Defence Force and the St. Kitts and Nevis Red Cross Society providing support. All drone operators and supporting team members recently successfully completed a week-long Drone Operation Training workshop which was hosted by NEMA. GSD sponsored the workshop and provided the trainers. All participants received a certificate noting their Level I proficiency.

Mrs. Lennon-Petty added that NEMA’s drone was equipped with a speaker over which the emergency message was aired to the residents below and both drones used cameras to take photographs and video footage of the activity.

“The drone that was donated to NEMA is valued at about US $10,000 and has several features we can use including a spotlight, speaker and camera. So, we are deeply grateful to GSD for, not only assisting us with the donation, but also for supporting the Drone Training Workshop because we were able use the individuals from that workshop to operate the drones during the CARIBE WAVE exercise,” she added.

Disaster management agencies like NEMA can also utilise drone technology to efficiently and accurately conduct assessments both pre- and post-disasters in order to improve the response. Drones can quickly capture aerial imagery and data, and provide comprehensive and evidence-based damage reports, giving a clear overview of the most affected areas and inaccessible regions.

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