bvi disaster preparedness

Disaster Preparedness


Senators Move Legislation to Formalize Ham Radio Operators’ Role in Emergency Response

  • Nelcia Charlemagne
  • November 10, 2023

Lawmakers have taken the first step to strengthen the dissemination of vital information across the territory in the event of natural, or other disasters, after the Committee on Homeland Security, Justice, and Public Safety approved Bill 35-0175 on Thursday. The measure seeks to  amend Virgin Islands Code to establish an Auxiliary Communications Unit within the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA). The proposed new unit would comprise amateur or ham radio operators acting as an “auxiliary communications resource,” during times of need. According to bill sponsor Senator Dwayne DeGraff, “ham radio operators have informally assisted us after natural disasters for many years, and this legislation codifies their role at VITEMA.” Mr. DeGraff explained that “volunteers will be considered territorial members of the Civil Defense Volunteer Corps.” Their invaluable assistance has already been proven, as ham operator Celia Kalousek testified, recounting how operato...