PHILIPSBURG:--- The Government of St. Maarten, through the Office of Disaster Management, hosted a conference at the Government Administration Building with VNG International, the Association of Netherlands Municipalities (Vereniging van Nederlandse Gemeenten), and communication and public relations personnel and officers from the Department of Communication, the Ministers’ cabinet, and various branches of the Emergency Support Function (ESF) members.
The name of the conference is: “Crisis communications for Communications advisors, PR officers and DCOMM” and the training was provided by the VNG organization, which represents since 1950 all Dutch municipalities, including, since 1995, the public bodies Bonaire, St. Eustatius, and Saba as well as the constituent countries of Aruba, St. Maarten, and Curacao.
VNG’s general goal, according to their website, is to “support and promote the strength and quality of local administrations” and “facilitate municipalities with the exchange of knowledge and experience regarding the implementation of national and local policies.”
The aim of the conference on St. Maarten is to work along and assist with disasters and crisis communication issues.
Secretary-General of the Ministry of General Affairs, Mr. Hensley Plantijn, provided some opening remarks to the session.
“After Hurricane Irma, we realized again that communication is vital to the whole organizational structure of Government. To preserve the integrity of Government, corrective, clear, and informative communication messages had to go out to the public in a timely and accurate manner to information the general public about the current crisis situation. This conference serves as a team building exercise among different communication organizations that will be keep working together. The fact that you reserve your time to participate, is highly appreciated, and shows that you all understand the importance of accurate information be provided to the community,” Plantijn said.
VNG (International) members Anke Hendriks and Esther Lans, who moderated and facilitated the conference training, were honored to be part of this unique first conference for all the communication professionals on Sint Maarten who share the responsibility of informing the public and stakeholders during crises. “We were impressed by the level of professionalism and the collective ambition to expand collaboration between communication professionals. We are confident that these professionals will form a solid network for crisis communications on Sint Maarten. Being stronger together means sharing knowledge and learning together, and this conference today has laid the foundations.”
The conference focused on key principles of crisis management; explored different experiences and perspectives and the ramifications thereof; stipulated possibilities for future collaboration
All in all, the conference was a success, Maurice Lake, Head of the Department of Communication, said at the end of the conference. I am glad for the contribution of Anke Hendriks and Esther Lans of VNG International and of all the participants here today. We shall continue as ever before in providing up-to-date and accurate information to the public of St. Maarten.
Present at the conference were members from the different Government communication sectors, Vaccine Management Team, St. Maarten Medical Center, Police, National Detectives, Airport, Port, Prosecutor’s office, NRPB/National Recovery Bureau, GEBE, Tourism Board, and the DCOMM.