SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - As the region enters the 2020 hurricane season, K1 DIRECT (K1 Britannia Foundation’s Disaster & Crisis Team) has started to make preparations to assist not only the Dutch Caribbean, but also islands in the region, during the wake of a disaster.
In the last several months, K1 DIRECT has expanded its capacity by enhancing its supplies, operational capabilities, regional and international partnerships as well as the qualifications of the volunteer team.
Most recently, K1 DIRECT has been involved in coordinating the packaging and distribution of food packages during the COVID-19 crisis, which has further developed and given the team the experience and immediate preparedness needed for any future disasters.
K1 DIRECT has been actively engaging in disaster preparedness since the team’s conception in 2017. Its members are trained in crisis management, emergency medicine, registration in emergencies, data collection, information management, psychosocial support, organization and distribution of relief goods, shelter management, and emergency logistics.
K1 DIRECT is also equipped with the logistics, supplies, and regional partnerships needed to be effective in immediate relief.
K1 DIRECT Program Manager, Priya Thirumur stated, “The team’s first priority is to the island of St. Maarten, in which K1 DIRECT has maintained dialogue with St. Maarten Government Emergency Support Function 7 (ESF7).
These dialogues outline the team’s pre-determined roles within shelter management, first response, and distribution management on the island. This partnership was an outcome of the experiences of Hurricane Irma, but also through COVID-19 which continued to build the foundation of a strong partnership, and set clear criteria of processes and procedures for disaster management.”
Over the years, the disaster team has dynamically played a role in the relief efforts of Hurricane Irma, St Maarten (September 2017), Hurricane Maria, Dominica (October 2017) and Hurricane Dorian, Bahamas (September 2019).
K1 DIRECT Program Manager, Alan Schet states, “The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration expects an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season amid the global pandemic and although we are hoping that we do not endure any disasters, we must be prepared and K1 DIRECT has been making necessary steps of preparedness via training and expansion of the team, over the years.”
K1 DIRECT has undergone extensive trainings in disaster management including disaster management training with the UNDAC (United Nations Disaster Assessment & Coordination) amongst many others in CPR, First Aid, Emergency Medical Response, Logistics and more. K1 DIRECT has also established a branch in Curacao which supports the St. Maarten team in regional disaster relief, and also have been given relevant trainings over the last two years.
Group photo during UNDAC training site visit at PJIA Airport.