IOM in the North Pacific at a Glance

IOM established its first office in the region in Majuro in May 2009. The opening of the sub-regional Head Office in Pohnpei followed a few months later. The FSM has been a member state since December 2011 and the RMI acceded to membership on 26 November, 2013.

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GEAR UP
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Working Together to make our Schools Safer

The International Organization for Migration (IOM), through funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and in partnership with the Pohnpei State Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the Pohnpei State Department of Education (DOE), have conducted fire drills at the six primary schools currently participating in the GEAR UP Program: Awak, Kolonia, Nett, Ohmine, Saladak, and Sekere Elementary Schools.

The fire response drill exercise has been divided into three phases: pre-evacuation, evacuation, and post-evacuation. During the pre-evacuation phase, IOM briefed principals and teachers, as well as, specially selected 8th grade students, who had successfully completed the disaster risk reduction education program with IOM. The 8th grade students serve as teachers' aides. During the briefing IOM provided evacuation checklists, explained the responsibilities of the teachers during and after the drill and appointed the teachers' aides to their respective classes.

During the evacuation phase, an alarm was sounded, through the continuous ringing of the school bell (accompanied by a megaphone siren for up to 15 seconds). An announcement was made through the megaphone: “FIRE” and “Evacuate to Rally Point”. The announcements were repeated three times to ensure that message was well received.  Once this was accomplished, an IOM staff member contacted the Department of Public Safety for assistance.

The post-evacuation phase consists of relocating the students, teachers, aides and any visitors to a pre-determined Rally Point. Teachers were required to conduct headcounts of students and report to principals immediately. Once the principals had transmitted this information to the DPS; an "all clear" signal was sounded. All buildings had to be cleared of students, teachers and other persons prior to the signal being given.

To provide an additional challenge and to add to the excitement of the event, IOM asked one or two students to hide during each exercise to ensure that teachers properly accounted for their students. In all cases, the teachers and principals performed their functions well and all missing students were accounted for. This subsequently allowed the DPS officials to provide an “All Clear”.

Before returning students to their classrooms, after the drills, IOM and DPS official, Mr Rick Herman, took advantage of the captive audience to provide instructions on the basic steps when someone catches on fire. The steps : Stop, Drop, and Roll were explained and demonstrated by the IOM staff and Mr Herman.  The audience enjoyed the informative yet very entertaining demonstration. Representing the DOE, Health Specialist Ms Rihna Jimmy observed and assisted in the evaluation of the drills as well as Chief of Elementary, Mr Pete Panuelo. 

Following this exercise, DPS conducted an assessment at most schools to determine the functionality of the fire hydrants and accessibility of emergency vehicles to schools grounds. The evacuation drills have contributed to the completion of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for emergency evacuations and emergency management for several schools in Pohnpei. The Pohnpei DOE has invited IOM to assist in conducting a training for all principals of Pohnpei Elementary Schools in the coming week. IOM accepted the invitation to assist in making Pohnpei’s schools safer!

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