Symposium on Integrating Disaster Risk Management with Emergency Services and Defence to Reduce Avoidable Disaster Deaths

This page contains the Description, Timetable, Partners, Speakers’ Biographies and Proceedings report for this Symposium.

View the YouTube video of the Symposium by clicking here.


On the 10th of December 2021, the virtual Symposium on Integrating Disaster Risk Management with Emergency Services and Defence to Reduce Avoidable Disaster Deaths was held.

The aims of this symposium were:

      • to understand the strategies, tactics and actions that the defence and emergency services undertake in collaboration with disaster management authorities and alike, to reduce avoidable disaster deaths,
      • to listen to the challenges that they experience and the lessons that can be learned to improve disaster response and recovery in the Caribbean region, and
      • to support in the cross-pollination of cognate services (emergency services, defence, disaster management) for mutual learning, capacity building and reimagine practices for collaboration to achieve sustainable development.

For more information, please read the Concept Note by clicking here.



Moderators and Discussants


Event Timetable

  • Session 1: Inaugural Session

Title: Introducing the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), Sustainable Development, Avoidable Deaths and Disaster Responders in the Caribbean Region.


  • Mr. Shawn Edward (Minister of Education, Sustainable Development, Innovation, Science, Technology and Vocational Training, St. Lucia)
  • Ms. Mami Mizutori (Head of UNDRR and Special Representative of the UN-Secretary-General for DRR)
  • Dr. Sanjay Badri-Maharaj (Independent Defence Analyst and Attorney at Law, Trinidad and Tobago)
  • Dr. Nibedita Ray-Bennett (ADN/University of Leicester) and Prof. Alois Hirschmugl (D.M.A.T)


  • Mr. Krishna Clarke
  • Dr. Albrecht Beck

Session 2: Emergency Services

Title: Voices of the Fire, Police, Search and Rescue Services in Reducing Avoidable Disaster Deaths in the Caribbean Region


  • Commissioner Edvin Martin (Second Vice President of the ACCP, Grenada)
  • Errol V Maynard (CAFS & BFS)
  • Mr. Octavio Restrepo Calderon (Caribbean Urban Search and Rescue)


  • Mr. David Wales
  • Mr. Chris Gannon
  • Dr. Christian Morgner

Session 3: Defence Services

Title: Voices of Military and Civilians – Disaster Response Mission Experiences to Reduce Avoidable Deaths in the Caribbean Region


  • Lt. Col. Tony Cheales (MoD, UK)
  • Keisha Linton (RSS, Caribbean)
  • Major Rene Savelsbergh N9 Civil & Military Cooperation (CIMIC, Navy)
  • Major Rogelio Pop (Defence Force, Belize)
  • Ms. Priya Thirumur (K1 Direct, Saint Martin & Rapid Response, Switzerland)


  • Dr. Albrecht Beck
  • Prof. Alois Hirschmugl
  • Mr. Daniel Mendez

Session 4: Closing Session


  • Paul Saunders (CDB)
  • Ms. Elizabeth Riley (CDEMA)
  • Ronald Jackson (UNDP)


  • Dr. Albrecht Beck
  • Prof. Alois Hirschmugl
  • Dr. Nibedita Ray-Bennett

Download the pdf version of the Symposium Timetable

View the YouTube video of the Symposium by clicking here.


Interns Who Are Part of the Organisation Team

Julian Coetzee (ADN)Julian CoetzeeIn his current career at Ascot & Fitch Insurance Brokers, Julian takes on challenging responsibilities such as helping organizations adopt suitable risk management approaches and if required, helping clients to obtain the most appropriate financial risk transfer contracts. He is a master analyst, professional relationship engineer, and a skillful negotiator. His impressive, varied, twenty years plus working career allows him to understand organizational needs, and help an organization to adopt the most appropriate strategies. This is achieved while maintaining objectivity in an ever-changing global environment. In addition to five years in the insurance industry, Julian is also an MSc student of Risk, Crisis and Disaster Management at the University of Leicester.

 Racheal NantumeA trained civil engineer with experience in contract and project management, design, construction supervision and maintenance of buildings, roads, bridges and structures. Graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree from Makerere University, Uganda. A commonwealth scholar pursuing a Masters of Risk, Crisis and Disaster Management at the University of Leicester, with the goal of contributing to making communities more resilient and sustainable especially in the current climate change environment.


Lauren MacleodGraduated from the University of Strathclyde with a BA (Hons) in International Business with Hospitality and Tourism Management. Her research focused on SME tour operator internationalisation in emerging economies. Since then, she has gained experience in digital marketing, website management, event management, digital ad sales, fundraising and venue accessibility. Currently, she is studying a MSc in Risk, Crisis and Disaster Management at the University of Leicester, with Spanish and Thai languages to start a career in disaster risk reduction.

Alice O Sullivan Currently, she is studying for her MSc in Risk, Crisis, and Disaster Management with the University of Leicester. She holds a BA (hons) in Logistics and Supply Chain Management from the Technological University Dublin. Alice works in logistics and production for Irish state broadcaster RTÉ.



Abdullahi Omuya Umar – An Aerodrome Fire Chief and ACI/ICAO Airport Safety Professional (ASP) at the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria. He has over a decade and half years of experience in the aviation ecosystem. Currently, he is the Technical Assistant to the Airport Manager of Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Ikeja, Nigeria. He is also a postgraduate student in MSc Risk, Crisis and Disaster Management at the University of Leicester.

Speakers’ Biographies

Image of Mr. Shwan Edward

Mr. Shawn Edward

A senior member of the Government of Saint Lucia who currently serves as the Minister of Education, Sustainable Development, Innovation, Science, Technology and Vocational Training. He is also the Second Deputy Political Leader of the Saint Lucia Labour Party. Mr. Edward is passionate about poverty alleviation, youth empowerment, gender equity, disaster risk mitigation, and disaster response, focusing on relief and recovery. Mr. Edward holds MSc in in Risk, Crisis and Disaster Management from the University of Leicester, UK.

Ms. Mami Mizutori

The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (SRSG) for Disaster Risk Reduction and head of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, based in Geneva, Switzerland. Before joining the UN, Ms. Mizutori was Executive Director of the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures, University of East Anglia, UK. She also served for twenty-seven years in various capacities in the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Ms. Mizutori graduated in law from Hitotsubashi University, Tokyo, and obtained a Diploma in International Studies from the Diplomatic School of Spain.

Image of Dr. Sanjay Badri-Maharaj

Dr. Sanjay Badri-Maharaj 

An independent defence analyst and attorney-at-law based in Trinidad and Tobago. Dr. Badri-Maharaj is a Teaching Assistant at the Department of War Studies in Kings College London, Researcher at the University of the West Indies, and a Lecturer at the University of Trinidad and Tobago. Previously, Dr. Badri-Maharaj has served as a consultant to the Trinidad and Tobago Ministry of National Security and its Ministry of the Attorney-General. Dr. Badri-Maharaj holds a PhD and an MA in War Studies, from Kings College London. Dr. Badri-Maharaj is the author of five books.

Image of Dr. Nibedita

Dr. .Nibedita S. Ray-Bennett

Dr. Nibedita S. Ray-Bennett is an Associate Professor in Risk Management at the University of Leicester’s School of Business. She is the founding President of the Avoidable Deaths Network (ADN), dedicated to reducing global disaster deaths.  For more details, please click on this link:

Mr. Errol Vincent Maynard

Mr. Errol Vincent Maynard is the Chief Fire Officer of the Barbados Fire Service. He is the current President of the Caribbean Association of Fire Chiefs, an Associate Member of the International Institute of Fire Engineers, and a Director of IFE CASA. Having attended several professional development courses, he established some important units within the Fire Service. Mr Maynard holds MSc in Fire Protection and Emergency Management from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.

Mr Octavio Restrepo Calderon

The President & Director of Caribbean Urban Search and Rescue CUSAR. He is also a Risk Consultant, Rescue Instructor, and Team Coordinator for Urban Search & Rescue USAR Curacao. In addition, Mr Calderon has attended several courses on disaster management.

Mr. Edvin Martin.

The Commissioner of Police of the Royal Grenada Police Force RGPF. He has served as an instructor with the Regional Security System and commanded many departments across the RGPF. Mr Martin attained several certificates and diplomas in policing and Criminal Justice during his career. He holds MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice.

Lieutenant Colonel Tony Cheales

Lieutenant Colonel Tony Cheales is the Commanding Officer, 66 Works Group Royal Engineers. He oversaw several small team operational deployments and deployed at short notice to Lebanon in the wake of the devastating blast in the Port of Beirut to provide engineering advice and support to the British Ambassador. Lt. Col Cheales has provided close engineering support to a multi-national formation in mainland Europe, delivering construction projects in Kenya and commanding an Engineer Squadron in Paderborn. Lt. Col Cheales trained as a construction engineer holds MSc in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Oxford.

Mrs. Keisha Linton

Mrs. Keisha Linton is the Disaster Management & Humanitarian Assistance Officer at the Regional Security Systems (RSS) Headquarters, Barbados. Before joining the RSS, Mrs Linton has worked with Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). She is also skilled in emergency preparedness and response and stakeholder engagement, most notably Civil-Military relations. Mrs Linton holds MSc in Risk, Crisis and Disaster Management from the University of Leicester, UK.

Major Rene Savelsbergh

Major Rene Savelsbergh is the Dutch Civil-Military Advisor for the Caribbean Region based at the Naval Headquarters in Curacao. He is a Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Specialist with Humanitarian Assistance Disaster Relief (HADR) operations/missions to Burundi, Burkina Faso, Bahama’s, and Haiti. Major Savelsbergh holds MSc in Hospitality Management.

Major Rojelio S. Pop

Major Rojelio S. Pop is the SO2 G3 Principal Staff Officer responsible for Operations, Training and Doctrine and Military Education. Before his current role, Major Pop spent a year establishing the Belize Youth Challenge programme, a Belize Defence Force BDF collaboration with Human Development. In addition, he has attended several Command courses and is currently pursuing MSc in Disaster Risk Management and Climate Governance from the University of Alfonso X el Sabio.

Image of Ms. Priya Thirumur

Ms. Priya Thirumur

A Charitable Director and International Project Manager. She co-founded K1 Britannia Foundation in 2014, a charity that has been active in working with vulnerable youth, volunteer initiatives and disaster relief in St Maarten and other Caribbean Islands. Additionally, she created K1 Direct, a St-Maarten based response team focused on disaster relief in the Caribbean region. She is also the Co-Founder and Board Member of Rapid Response Team Foundation – a Swiss-based charity with a significant focus on international disaster relief. Ms. Thirumur has worked with several United Nations Organizations in Europe to strengthen disaster response worldwide, and with various military organisations, and government officials of the Netherlands to coordinate assistance for St Maarten.

Image of Mr. Ronald Jackson

Mr. Ronald Jackson

Mr. Ronald Jackson  is currently the Head of Disaster Risk Reduction & Recovery Team (DRT) for Building Resilience in the United Development Programme (UNDP) in Geneva, Switzerland. He is a Member of Crisis Bureau Senior Management Team and the GPN Management Team. Before joining UNDP, Mr. Jackson was the Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and Director-General of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) in Jamaica. Mr. Jackson holds MSc in Natural Resource Management and Environmental Resource Management from the University of the West Indies.

Mr. Paul Saunders

Mr. Paul Saunders is the Operations Officer (Environmental Sustainability) in the Environmental Sustainability Unit of the Caribbean Development Bank CDB. At the Bank, he is accountable for mainstreaming environmental sustainability concerns throughout the Bank’s operations, supervision of institutional and regulatory aspects of environmental .sustainability on all assigned projects, including management of CDB’s emergency response portfolios. Mr. Saunders is a Disaster Risk Management/ Environmental Sustainability professional and holds a BSc in Geology and an MSc in Natural Resources Management from UWI, Jamaica.

Image of Ms. Elizabeth Riley

Ms Elizabeth Riley  

Ms. Elizabeth Riley is the Executive Director at the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA). She is currently the Vice-Chair of the ICG/Caribe Early Warning Systems Group of Experts on Coastal Hazards, and sits on the Regional Advisory Group, leading the Regional Strategy for Latin America and the Caribbean on Disaster Risk Management in the Agriculture and Food and Nutrition Sectors. Ms. Elizabeth holds an M.A. (Econ) in Environment and Development from the University of Manchester, UK.

Image of Professor Alois Hirschmugl

Professor Alois Hirschmugl 

A Regular Officer, Trainer/Expert for international disaster management, and Technical Director of DMAT Consulting KG. Since 1999, Professor Hirschmugl has completed nine missions as UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination Member, and two missions as EU Civil Protection Expert. He has also contributed to EU research projects on Space, Disaster Resilience, and Security.  Professor Hirschmugl holds a MA and Ph.D. in Law and published a handbook on the legal aspects for peace support operations, humanitarian, and disaster management operations.

Discussant’s Profiles

Mr. David Wales

The founder of SharedAim and is an Advisory Panel member for the Crisis Response Journal. He gained significant experience in all aspects of emergency planning and response following a distinguished career in the Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) in the UK. Mr. Wales is an experienced presenter, author and has worked extensively across multiple sectors, including fire and emergency, health/burns, academia, electrical and customer experience. He graduated from the University of Leicester with an MSc in Risk, Crisis and Disaster Management.

Dr. Christian Morgner

A Senior Lecturer in Cultural and Creative Industries, Management School at the University of Sheffield and the lead author on the EU’s education and cultural inclusion report Science for Disaster Risk Management 2020. Dr. Morgner has a sociological interest in the reproduction of exclusion and inequality in social interaction and communication, focusing on atypical interactions, crisis and emergency communication.

Mr. Daniel Mendez

A risk, crisis and disaster manager with over 20 years of experience managing security and crises at the national and local levels. He is a consultant for UNICEF Belize. In addition, Mr. Mendez has worked for the Belize Defence Force and the United States Peace Corps. Mr. Mendez frequently writes about issues of risk and crisis management, focusing on corporate culture and leadership. Mr. Mendez holds MSc in Risk, Crisis and Disaster Management from the University of Leicester.

Dr. Albrecht Beck

Dr. Albrecht Beck is the Director of Prepared International, an expert consultancy founded by UN and World Bank experts during the Nepal Earthquake to help communities facing the emergencies of today. Dr. Beck is a member of the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC), civil expert for Population Movements and Mass Evacuations for NATO, and a board member of the World Humanitarian Forum and the Crisis Response Journal. Dr. Beck had previously served at the United Nations and International Organization for Migration (IOM) in the fields of emergency preparedness and response, and have been deployed to numerous mass disaster events.

Mr. Daniel Cossio

Mr. Daniel Cossio is the CFO and senior partner at Gannon Emergency Solutions, a consultancy company with offices in London, Bolivia and the USA, specializing in reviewing and reforming emergency services in nearly 40 countries. An economist by profession, Mr. Cossio has focused his work on the intersection of social science and technical operations in the industry and has applied this experience to the improvement of Fire Departments in Latin America over the past decade.

View the YouTube video of the Symposium by clicking here.