Columns

Gallantry, safety, and 'high' in 'Toronno'

Barbara
Gloudon

Friday, October 19, 2018

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MONDAY gone was National Heroes' Day and, in accordance with the pronouncement made on the occasion of the 56th anniversary of Independence, Governor General Sir Patrick Allen, under advisement of Prime Minister Andrew Holness, made the appointments to the orders of the nation's Societies of Honour and the Badge of Honour and Medal of Honour at the annual Ceremony of Investiture and Presentation of National Honours and Awards on the lawns of King's House.

A considerable number of individuals in various areas of endeavour were recognised for their contribution to the nation. Individuals who were given awards came from a wide range of places across the island and the Diaspora. Among the sections which received a great deal of attention in the ceremony were those awarded for gallantry. Let's remember the ordinary Jamaicans who did extraordinary things.

One of the sections which received a great deal of attention in the ceremony is the category of the Badge of Honour for Gallantry. Let's remember the ordinary Jamaicans who did extraordinary things. There were nine individuals who put their own lives on the line to save others:

• Grace Allen

• Kimani Anderson

• Sophia Cameron

• Veryln Douse

• Jevon Lewis

• Camille McIntosh

• Lloyd Nelson

• Selena Reid

• Aristel St Joy

Reid, Anderson and Allen saved the residents at the Walker's Place of Safety when a fire broke out on the premises earlier this year. Three nurses (Cameron, Douse, McIntosh) were recognised for their actions in saving the lives of infants in the Neonatal Care Unit of the Victoria Jubilee Hospital which was also threatened by fire in the year 2014. The remaining 'heroes' battled flood waters in Montego Bay to save adults and a baby who were trapped after heavy rains resulted in them being stranded in a store. Mercifully all survived.

In interviews leading up to the presentation ceremony, the brave men and women all said they took action without a second thought. They were looking out for those who needed help, and we are thankful that they did.

While we give thanks for the acts of bravery, we also have to wonder how much attention is paid to making our buildings safer? Have you noticed how many times you are in a structure which is accessed by steps or stairs which could pose a problem in moments of emergency? Do you know if there is a fire escape or emergency exit?

In 2017, the House of Representatives passed 'The Building Bill', which speaks to a National Building Code in hopes of establishing rules and regulations that will ensure public safety. Have the measures suggested in the Bill been put into action? Are there checks and balances in place to make sure we are doing the right thing?

Safety in public buildings is one important matter, but safety in the homes should also give us reason to take a second look at our security. Notice how many children have been lost in fires in places where needy children are housed because the necessary equipment was not available. There are times when more help is needed to keep everyone safe. Older buildings need to be checked regularly to be sure that they are still up to code. There have also been incidents when “little hands” get themselves into trouble. One little spark where it should not be and fire can pay us a visit and we may not be able to stop the flames. There are people and places which can help with training. Don't wait until it is too late.

Flying high

Ganja can get a plane ticket? Is it true? Canada is allowing travellers on domestic flights to carry their marijuana along for the ride, although they will not be able to take it outside of the country. Every day now, it seems, one country or the other has been deciding that they are happy to serve “the weed”.

Who can remember a time when people had to run when police see you blowing the smoke? Wonder if Jamaicans living in “Toronno” will be taking advantage of the new way of doing things. One thing, though, they better not mek mistake and board the wrong flight… things aren't the same outside of Canada's borders.

Congrats, Reggae Girlz

The Jamaican female football team pulled off a historic win and will be heading to France for the FIFA Women's World Cup. Nuff congratulations to our women who continue to show the world “how Jamaicans do tings”.

Barbara Gloudon is a journalist, playwright and commentator. Send comments to the Observer or

gloudonb@gmail.com.

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