Jamaicas crisis management plan, used most
recently in the hurricanes of 2004 and 2005, was immediately
activated when Jamaican officials first got word of the 3 a.m. fire
aboard Princess Cruises Star Princess as its steamed toward Montego
Bay from Grand Cayman.
minister of state, was alerted at 7 a.m. and he informed Prime
Minister P. J. Patterson and Prime Minister-elect Portia
Simpson-Miller of the situation.
Our crisis plan
involved quickly galvanizing the support of dozens of agencies on
the national and local levels, said David Shields, deputy marketing
director of the Jamaica Tourist Board in Kingston, Jamaica. Shields
coordinated many of these efforts throughout the daylong effort.
The agencies involved
included the islands Office of Defense, the Ministry of National
Security, the Port Authority of Jamaica, the fire services, the
Jamaican Defense Forces, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of
Tourism, the Jamaica Tourist Board, the Jamaica Hotel and Tourism
Association and the Tour Product Development Co.
these agencies, along with helicopters, ambulances and a full
medical services team, gathered at the pier in Montego Bay to await
the ships arrival.
We were not sure if
the helicopters would be needed to transport injured passengers,
but we had them on standby just in case, Shields said.
at the pier met with officials from Lanneman & Morris, the
local shipping agent for the Star Princess.
We were informed that
the most immediate need was for medical attention and personnel to
transport the 11 injured passengers to Cornwall Regional Hospital
in Montego Bay, Shields said.
Several of the injured
were airlifted to the hospital by helicopter. MacNeil, who was at
the pier, reported that most of the injuries were from smoke
There was speculation
that the fire began with a cigarette but that has not been
confirmed, he said.
that the cruise would terminate in Montego Bay, that 100 cabins
were damaged and that more than 300 passengers had to evacuate the
ship and would be flown to Fort Lauderdale within two
Jamaica is running at
close to 100% hotel occupancy right now, Shields said, but the
Jamaica Hotel and Tourism Association, along with the JTB, were on
this situation from the start and were able to accommodate all the
passengers in hotels. We used properties from Negril to Ocho Rios
in addition to Montego Bay.
Meanwhile, Shields and
his staff in Kingston made contact with embassies and consulates in
Canada and the U.S. because many passengers had lost their
At a press briefing
held at Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay on March 23,
MacNeil outlined the steps that already had been taken by the
numerous agencies involved and stressed that Jamaica will continue
to offer all support on every level. This has been an effort on
every level, including the local community in Montego Bay who also
turned out to offer assistance.
He specifically cited
the assistance rendered by the Port Authority of
Our basic crisis
management plan can be adapted for all emergencies. We are all
partners here, MacNeil said.
reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].
details on this article, see Fire on Star Princess leaves one passenger dead, 11