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The Civil Defence Commission (CDC), through the Government of Guyana and in collaboration with the National Oil Spill Committee, today conducted a National Oil Spill Response Exercise in the form of a Command Post and Field Tactical Exercise. This activity signaled the end of a series of trainings and workshops which began in September 2021 as part of the National Oil Spill Response Effort.
Today’s mission was three-pronged with the Command Post established at the Pegasus Hotel, and sectional posts at the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Coast Guard Headquarters and the Marriott Shoreline. The activity was simulation-oriented, which saw fictional scenarios surrounding a two-vessel collision and oil spill, being responded to by various agencies. Members of the National Oil Spill Committee (NOSC) such as the Guyana Fire Service (GFS), Guyana Police Force (GPF), GDF Coast Guard, Maritime Administration (MARAD), Guyana Energy Agency (GEA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and CDC played integral roles in assessing the simulated incident and managing the relevant responsibilities. Technical support was provided by The Response Group (TRG), an international incident and crisis management entity.
Lieutenant Colonel Kester Craig, Director General of the CDC, issued a few remarks during the Prime Minister’s visit to the Exercise Command Post. “The intent of the National Oil Spill Exercise is to test Guyana’s oil spill capabilities to respond to a Tier Two oil spill scenario through the activation of the NOSCP.” He added that the Exercise aimed to mimic reality by conjuring complex problems that require critical thinking, rapid problem solving and effective responses. The Prime Minister, Honourable Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Phillips, inspected the Command Post and Shoreline Post and congratulated all the players on a job well done. Prime Minister Phillips indicated that he recognizes a need for adequate resources to combat such a hazard, but committed the Government of Guyana’s support to ensure that all materials and personnel are in place for such an event.
The GNOSRE was ultimately a series of events in the forms of training sessions, workshops and assessment projects that spanned over a few months beginning in September of last year. However, most of the significant exercises occurred in March of 2022 in a total of eight (8) phases. Phase One was Exercise Planning and Coordination which was executed by a National Multi-Agency Team led by the CDC. Phase Two saw Focused Capacity Building where a series of knowledge and skills transfer activities were engaged to enhance participating organizations’ capabilities. Exercise Orientation and Brief was the third Phase, where participating organizations were informed on exercise conduct and adequate information was provided to influence preparedness. Phase Four was Exercise Connectivity, which facilitated the testing of all communication channels and media to ensure inter-operability. The fifth Phase was a Tabletop Exercise, where stakeholders ventured on a theoretical journey through various scenarios to assimilate key actions to be used in a real operational theater. Phases Six and Seven were the Command Post and Field Tactical Exercise; and Demobilization. Real life scenarios were presented to prompt real life actions by key organizations which are based in the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan (NOSCP). This was followed by the assurance that all resources were accounted for, removed from the Exercise Posts and returned to their designated locations. The Exercise Review, which is the eighth and final Phase will occur on March 31 and, will be the interrogation of all phases of the Exercise to identify gaps and key lessons to influence future learning and foster strengthened responses. Most Phases were conducted virtually and supported by several international agencies.
Upon completion of Evaluation and Review, updated plans in the form of a comprehensive report will be incorporated into the NOSCP which will be used as guide for potential oil spill hazards and disasters.