Santo Domingo – U.S. Ambassador, James W. Brewster, donated firefighter rescue equipment, a radio based communication network, and a revised procedural handbook to the Center for Emergency Operations (COE) Director, General Juan Manuel Méndez García as part of U.S. government effort to help countries prepare for, respond to, and recover from humanitarian crises. The donated equipment is part of three recently completed projects valued at over $500,000 by the SOUTHCOM Office of Security Cooperation (MAAG) Humanitarian Assistance Program (HAP) and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA).
In 2011, the United States Government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Dominican Government regarding their common interest in the development of Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) capacity in Dominican Republic. Under the auspices of this MOU, and existing humanitarian assistance engagements by SOUTHCOM’s Office of Security Cooperation and USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, the three projects provide needed support for the COE (known as Centro de Operaciones de Emergencias in Spanish) to increase the resiliency of the Dominican Republic’s disaster response infrastructure.
The equipment donation includes Firefighter Equipment with the Jaws of Life System and protective clothing to bolster COE’s response capabilities in Punta Cana, Villa Altagracia and Santo Domingo areas. In addition, a radio-based National Emergency Communications Network (destroyed in 1998 by Hurricane George) links the COE, civil defense forces and regional disaster relief warehouses in Pedernales and Higuey. This allows for effective communication and coordination in response to disasters. To augment COE’s efficiency and effectiveness leading national disaster response efforts through standardization of response procedures, the U.S. Government revised the procedural handbook for the COE.
Ambassador Brewster expressed the United States commitment with disaster risk reduction and informed that over the next year, USG will continue on-going efforts with the Dominican Republic to develop national hurricane and tsunami response plans, support urban search and rescue training, strengthen the city of Santo Domingo infrastructure to combat the effects of climate change as well as other humanitarian civic assistance projects.