JAMAICA'S Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) wants legislation supporting the building code to be passed and applied, which the agency says is crucial in the country's preparation for earthquakes.
"Every structure and especially government infrastructure must be built to that code and that needs to be retro-fitted and I think that is the direction we need to focus," said Ronald Jackson, director general of the ODPEM.
He was responding to questions at the launch of a documentary 'QUAKE: Haiti in Jamaica', funded by NEM Insurance, which looks at how Jamaica would fare if hit by an earthquake similar to that which devastated Haiti in 2010.
The documentary, which will be aired tonight at 9:30 on Television Jamaica, then later on the Public Broadcasting Commission and Caribbean Media Corporation, was produced by Bob Harris of RH Productions and features head of the Earthquake Unit, Lyndon Brown, executive director of Mona GeoInformatics Institute, Dr Parris Lyew-Ayee, as well as soldiers from the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF).
"It is not so much dissecting the Haiti event but we are trying to figure out what would have happened if 'Haiti had happened in Jamaica'. And this is not just a Jamaica earthquake simulation, this is the Haiti event in Jamaica," Lyew-Ayee said of the documentary.
The launch is one of several activities to mark Earthquake Awareness Week, which runs from January 8-14.
Meanwhile, Jackson said there have been heavy investment in the training of JDF soldiers to deal with such catastrophes. He said the Jamaica Fire Brigade has also invested in training, particularly in first aid and search and rescue.
The ODPEM boss said, however, that much more needs to be done in terms of equipping the first responders with the adequate resources for them to be able to operate. "It is one thing to train but the equipment is required to operate in those conditions. However, we continue to build on that," Jackson said.
Jackson said, too, that the ODPEM has been training residents of several communities in first aid and light-level search and rescue.