Karen Sudu, Gleaner Writer
BOG WALK, St Catherine:SPECIAL EMPHASIS is usually placed on disaster preparedness and mitigation during the hurricane season, June 1 to November 30. Despite this, several persons are usually caught off guard, resulting in loss of lives and property when disasters occur.
It is for this reason that the St Catherine Community Development Agency (SACDA) hosted a disaster information and health fair at the Banana Board complex in Bog Walk recently.
"We are helping the residents of Bog Walk and surrounding communities to be more aware of disasters … . Our role is to educate, inform, and prepare them that in case there is a disaster, it will have little impact on their lives and livelihood," SACDA's executive director, Nellie Francis-Richards, explained to The Gleaner.
The fair was staged under the umbrella of a disaster-risk reduction project implemented by HelpAge International in association with SACDA. It was funded by the United States Agency for International Development through its Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance.
"We gave out what we call an evacuation bag checklist. That is a pictorial representation of the things you would need to get up and go should there be a disaster," explained Kerryan Francis, programme and communications officer with HelpAge International.
She added: "We also gave out water bottles to emphasise the need for clean drinking water in disasters. We gave pouches, which can help people to protect documents in disaster situations, and we gave out a disaster comic that takes people through, in a very colourful way, what happens in a disaster."
Two key participating agencies in the event, which also received backing from Valu Drug Pharmacy, were the St Catherine Parish Council and the St Catherine Fire Brigade.
"We are here displaying fire equipment, our gear, giving away brochures, and informing persons about safety and how to prevent fires. We are also telling the children about the dangers of lighting matches, playing with lighters, candles, and advising adults not to light fires carelessly," acting Sergeant Omar Rhone, Fire Prevention Unit at the St Catherine Fire Brigade, told The Gleaner.
MAKING USE OF BOOTHS
Eighty-five people received brochures and posters from the Forestry Department, while 34 sought the services of the Land Administration and Management Programme.
Representatives from the National People's Cooperative Bank, Bog Walk branch, and the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education were also available to facilitate registration and disseminate information. However, it was the services of the Registrar General's Department that were in high demand.
"I come here to reapply for my birth certificate. I have the old one, and I am applying for the new one. This is so convenient for me instead of going to Spanish Town," Reginald McCrae, a 69-year-old resident of Shenton, told The Gleaner.
Unaware of the fair, 61-year-old Melvalee Williams travelled from West Prospect to Bog Walk to transact personal business.
"I didn't know about the fair, but I am glad I came up on it so I can get my pressure checked and look about my grandson's birth certificate. I am glad for this opportunity because it saves me from going to Spanish Town," said Williams.
One hundred and fourteen people, including 77-year-old Mildred Laing of Content, benefited from blood pressure and blood sugar tests.
Khadine Smith, medical representative of Geddes Grant, one of the administrators of the blood sugar tests, noted that some of the seniors tested were not adhering to the instructions given as to how they should take their medication.
"The readings that I got, mostly from the elderly patients, were elevated. Basically, they are not taking their mediation properly, so we need to encourage them to do so," Smith shared with The Gleaner.