Other lessons from Haiti
The Editor, Sir:
For too long developing countries like Jamaica have had the mindset that the developed world will always rush to their aid; and while that may be true in a sense, the lack of an effective system to guide that help will only lead to further chaos enabled by the disaster itself.
While we all grieve for the Haitian people, I believe that Jamaica should use this not only as a wake-up call to implement a proper national building code that adhere to the best practices of international standards. It should use this as the impetus to improve its response capability in times of natural disasters.
Wallow in confusion
Thank goodness we have a very effective defence force. However, the truth is if a disaster of mammoth magnitude happened, we, as a nation, would wallow in confusion and simmer on the brink of 'failed state' status. Therefore, let's be proactive and urgently move towards establishing an all volunteer uniformed 'National Civil Defence Corps'.
Under the civilian command of the governor general to mitigate political interference, this gun-free 'army' would work in conjunction with the Jamaica Constabulary Force and the Jamaica Defence Force to secure Jamaica only in times of natural disaster as declared by the governor general after consultation with the prime minister. Its service members would be trained to be highly skilled in search and rescue, firefighting, heavy-equipment usage, emergency ambulance services, urgent health-care services, as well as providing law enforcement at emergency shelter.
In our lifetime many more disasters are bound to occur; and while we should gladly accept help from the global community, we must have pride. We do not have to wait to act like the 'poor ting' of the world. Let's make what happened in Haiti, despite the enormous sadness, a lesson learned.
I am, etc.,