Daily Archives: May 1, 2010

My Place – Emergency!

So, what’s your local disaster likely to be? 


The West Coast is pretty well built to deal with lots of water, but from time to time we do get significant floods. We’ve also had a tornado or two in recent memory.

BUT – the big issue here is the possibility of an earthquake. Well, it’s not a possibility really, it’s an inevitability. Maybe in the next  5 minutes  (in which case you’ll never get to read  this post!), the next 5 days, five weeks, five years or 50 years. 

You see – most of New Zealand sits right across a big ole nasty fault line. There’s lots of info on the web to be read for those who are interested (yes Penny, that means you!!! LOL) and here are some linkies:

Alpine Fault Earthquake Talk 

Otago University Department of Geology (Alpine Fault info)



 However, the topic for discussion at the moment is – how does the Coast respond in an emergency??  In a smallish emergency, I think they do pretty well here – the Police, Ambulance, Civil Defence, LandSAR and the District & Regional Councils. They have plenty of training regular practises and most years a large ‘scenario’ of some kind, as well as enough real stuff to keep them on their toes.

But there’s always the worry about the ‘Big One.’ 

Now there is going to be another group added to the mix – to provide a supporting role.

The Red Cross & Red Crescent (which most of you will have heard of) have, over the last two years or so, undergone a major restructuring from their headquarters in Geneva, down through the Societies in each country and finally to the local branches in each community across the world that has a group.  And one of the things that is happening locally is that an Emergency Response Unit is being created here.  The local District Council have requested it, and the timing is right with all the other changes that are going on.

The purpose of the ERU will be to provide support to whoever is the ‘lead agency’ in a local emergency situation – whether that be the Police, Civil Defence, Fire Service or any other designated organisation.

At the first stage we get to do a whole bunch of basic but essential stuff ranging from making sure that the rescuers and rescuees  are kept fed & watered, give very basic first aid for minor injuries  and  collect personal information, give out blankets, clothing etc etc as needed. This is called a ‘Welfare Team.’ 

After that there are various other levels of response – evacuation assistance, communications & navigation,  triage and more advanced pre-hospital care, and rope & enclosed space rescue – which is where  people like us who like playing around with ropes come in!  Eventually I expect the PB will be in or leading a ropes team, and I may be doing navigation & communications – or either of us could end up doing medical stuff.

It will take a while to get to that level, maybe a couple of years. But to start off with we’ve all got to make sure that our own homes and families are as prepared as possible for an emergency – whether we need to be able to stay in our homes or evacuate, and make sure that we ourselves are ready to go at a moment’s notice should we be called out to an emergency.  Everyone will be put through a basic first aid course, and some through a more advanced course, and there will be other training weekends and practising of skills every fortnight.

So consider these three questions and tell me what you would do in your comment. Or even if you don’t tell me at least think about the first question and get  your home & family a little more prepared.
1)      Can you and your household (including pets, babies, disabled or elderly folk – as appropriate ) survive at home, with every service & utility not working, for a MINIUM of three days with no outside assistance what-so-ever??
2)      If I come in my 4WD truck and say you have 60 seconds to evacuate – could you do it and what 6 items would you bring with you?  What would be different if I’m taking you to a warm cosy evacuation centre somewhere – versus a temporary tent in the middle of a field. What would you grab then?
3)      How would you be prepared if you yourself had to survive away from home for a minimum of 24 hours and be completely self-sufficient? In an empty field or wrecked building somewhere?
These are not things some of us think about – unless we’ve been in a disaster or a warzone or the like before.  So do think about it, and this week do at least one thing to improve your chances of surviving  an emergency.

Some linkies. These are mostly the New Zealand ones – you country will almost certainly have equivalent sites.

Get Ready get Thru

Civil Defence

WCRC Emergency Management Plan