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Please prune overhanging trees!

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Fri May 31, 2013

Editor: The hurricane season is with us again and this is an urgent call from a first responder agency, appealing to all stakeholders to assist with the pruning of trees that overhang our major motorways, as well as the by-roads, side-roads and feeder roads. Within the Rainbow Radio League Inc (RRL), we have zonal directors who are trained to report on damage within their area to the National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) and most of the vehicles we use have antennas which are normally mounted on the roofs of these vehicles.{{more}} Now low over-hanging trees are hazards, as antennas will be damaged by these branches, even if the vehicle is moving slowly. Without an antenna the radio cannot function.

The RRL is not the only agency with vehicles using antennas. Vinlec, CSWA, Forestry Division, LIME and the Police have all used mobile radios in the past and still use radios. When an antenna is damaged, communication from that mobile station is seriously compromised, a situation that must be avoided, especially during or after a disaster.

Despite the fact that disaster management (DM) is everybody’s business, the RRL is appealing to the Forestry Division to team up with Vinlec and all telecommunications providers to use their trucks fitted with bucket hoists to safely prune these overhanging trees. Before the start of each hurricane season our members check the main roads and feeder roads to check the condition of the drains, bridges, retaining walls and, of course, overhanging trees and report our findings to the relevant authorities, and this public appeal is an open invitation to all persons who live next to roads with overhanging branches to have them pruned. If you have difficulty in having it done professionally, please call the Forestry Division and ask for guidance or assistance.

In earlier times DM focused mainly on responding to events that have already occurred. In the new paradigm, the emphasis is on mitigation, or the prevention of, or the lessening of the effects of a natural or man induced hazard. The old adage “a stitch in time saves nine” is appropriate in this new paradigm, so let’s start pruning the overhanging trees that pose threats to human and vehicular traffic.

Consider this scenario: your roof collapsed due to the high winds and you are trapped in your own house pinned to the ground by the heavy rafters. First responders are aware of your situation, but the road leading into your property is blocked by a large branch that broke off during the storm; you are losing blood, so every second to release you from imminent death is important. Had the offending branch been pruned beforehand, the vehicle bringing the equipment and personnel to help you would have proceeded to rescue you in the quickest possible time, increasing your chances of survival, and that is what really counts when rescuing persons – TIME and timeliness.

So, it is not too late to start a vigorous campaign to mitigate the effects of storms by cutting trees that overhang your house and roads, but more importantly to allow first responders to provide their service with the minimum of delays.

Donald De Riggs

Director/Secretary – Rainbow Radio League Inc

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