Monday, February 20, 2012

U.,S. Virgin Islands. Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency

Agency Overview

Our Mission
The principal mission of VITEMA as a first response coordinator, is to save lives and property of the territory’s population, by preparing territorial organizations to respond to, recover from and mitigate against All-Hazards, through planning, coordinating, training and exercise activities and is the sole Virgin Islands government agency designated to supervise, administer and coordinate All-Hazards response and recovery operations. Authority is derived from V. I. Code,Title 23, the VITEMA Act (5233) of 1986 and the Emergency Management Act of 2009.

Our Vision
To be the pre-eminent emergency management agency in the Caribbean and the Nation by providing an effective, responsible, and professional network of services to ensure resiliency before, during, and after a natural or man-made incident that may impact the safety and well-being of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA) is the lead emergency management agency for the Territory as defined in the Virgin Islands Code, Title 23, Chapter 10. As such, the VITEMA’s mission is to prepare for, coordinate the response to and the recovery from all hazards and threats that impacts the Virgin Islands. In recent years, VITEMA has focused the majority of its planning and training efforts on hurricane and coastal storm preparedness. While this preparedness effort is extremely important, the Territory faces many equally dangerous and significant threats from other natural and man-made disasters, including earthquakes, tsunamis and terrorism. The Territory must maintain a high level of readiness in order to effectively respond to these threats especially in light of recent earthquake events in Haiti and Chile in our hemisphere. 

To meet these threats, Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr., in 2009, reorganized emergency management in the Virgin Islands by consolidating the VITEMA, the Virgin Islands Office of Homeland Security, the 9-1-1 communication centers, and the Public Assistance Grant Program. Moving VITEMA’s personnel, program, and functions from under the auspices of the Office of the Adjutant General, the Office of Management and Budget and the VI Police Department will bring greater focus and enhance the importance of emergency management throughout the Territory. This approach has been further strengthened by elevating the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency to a cabinet-level agency under the Office of the Governor of the Virgin Islands. 
The new VITEMA has been established following the National Incident Management System (NIMS), which is a comprehensive, nationwide systematic approach to emergency management. The system standardizes resource management procedures for optimum coordination among different islands, departments, and agencies of the V.I. Government and the private sector. VITEMA, as it is reorganized, enhances organizational and technological operations and cooperation, which promotes all-hazard preparedness. 

The components of VITEMA include logistics, preparedness, operations, grant manage ment, administration and finance and recovery. You can learn more about VITEMA's Divisions, here.

Governor John P. deJongh, Jr. has fulfilled his commitment to implementing a 9-1-1 system with modern equipment and services required to assist dispatchers and first responders in providing professional emergency response services to V.I. citizens – and the millions of annual guests – in the Territory. The Unified Communications Center is currently operational on St. Croix and on St. Thomas/St. John/Water Island. 
During the 2009-2010 fiscal year VITEMA has made significant progress on improving its infrastructure. With funding from the Legislature, the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) on St John was refurbished and modern telecommunication and video teleconference capabilities were installed. Simultaneously, on St. Croix, with assistance from the V.I Government some repairs of the facility were completed. On St Thomas, the Government acquired the E.D. Plumbing Building and has reconfigured and rebuilt the interior to meet the needs of the newly reorganized VITEMA. This facility also includes modern telecommunication equipment, a fusion center, a new EOC, and is the home of the 9-1-1 Communication Center. 
As VITEMA improves performance and coordinates services to reduce response time, the Agency will better serve the V.I. community before, during and after emergencies. The VITEMA is committed to being the number one (1) emergency management agency in the Caribbean and will continue striving to provide quality emergency response services and to protect the security of our homeland in the Virgin Islands. 

FOCUS: U.S. Virgin Islands Teen CERT Program

Virgin Islands Territorial
Emergency Management Agency

February 7, 2012

VITEMA, St. Croix Rescue Kicks Off Teen CERT at Elena Christian Jr. High School

The Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA) and the St. Croix Rescue Squad, on Wednesday, will welcome Elena Christian Junior High School students to the Teen CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) pilot program. A brief opening ceremony is scheduled for in the school’s auditorium.

Teen CERT, an offshoot of the adult CERT program, falls under the umbrella of the Citizen Corp Council, a national organization created by President Bush in 2002 to help coordinate volunteer activities that will make communities safer, stronger, and better prepared to respond to any emergency situation. 

Thirty-six St. Elena Christian students signed up to join Teen CERT, becoming among the first teen groups to be certified in basic disaster response. Between Wednesday and Friday, the students will be taught skills such as fire safety and how to suppress, light search and rescue, disaster medical operations and team organization.

Certified CERT trainers with the St. Croix Rescue Academy are serving as instructors.

On Sunday, the program will culminate with a mock full-scale disaster exercise and certificate presentation at the St. Croix Rescue Academy in Five Corners. The mock exercise is set to begin at approximately and will test all of the disaster response and management skills students learned in the classroom.

Completion of the program means that the Elena Christian Junior High School now has within its campus, students qualified to assist others following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. Teen CERT members also are encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking a more active role in emergency preparedness projects in their community.

“We are proud of the students who volunteered for this training,” VITEMA Director Elton Lewis said. “It shows that they are concerned with the well-being of their families and the community as a whole and we applaud them for that. I also want to thank the Elena Christian school administrators for allowing us to bring the program to their campus.”

VITEMA launched the Teen CERT program in the Virgin Islands in April of last year at the Seventh Day Adventist High School as part of pilot program created to educate and train student-volunteers nationwide in preparing for disasters that impact their areas. Teen CERT certification is also available to faith-based communities, youth organizations and members of clubs and civic organizations.

The media is invited to visit the program at the Elena Christian Junior High School between Wednesday and Friday and at the St. Croix Rescue Academy on Sunday. The training calendar is attached for planning purposes. 

For more information about Teen CERT contact VITEMA’s Deputy Director for Preparedness Al Javois at 773-2244 ext. 222.

Learn more about Teen CERT:

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