Shake-up, Shake­out for civil de­fence

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By RE­BECCA THOMSON

It was a rocky be­gin­ning for the Welling­ton Re­gional Emer­gency Man­age­ment Of­fice (WREMO).

WREMO, an amal­ga­ma­tion of the re­gion’s civil de­fence of­fices, came into be­ing one day be­fore a mag­ni­tude 7 earth­quake struck the North Is­land.

Bruce Pep­perell, who heads the new ser­vice, said the earth­quake was a timely re­minder for Welling­to­ni­ans to make sure they were pre­pared for the big one.

He also said the amal­ga­ma­tion of the re­gion’s civil de­fence of­fices would al­low for bet­ter shar­ing of re­sources, in­for­ma­tion and ex­per­tise.

‘‘Be­fore [amal­ga­ma­tion] we weren’t as con­nected as we could have been,’’ he said. ‘‘You want con­sis­tency of ap­proaches and mes­sages.

‘‘We can be more ef­fec­tive with 20 peo­ple work­ing to­gether than two or three or five peo­ple work­ing sep­a­rately.’’

WREMO is the re­sult of the Ca­pa­bil­ity As­sess­ment Re­port, pre­pared by the Min­istry of Civil De­fence and Emer­gency Man­age­ment af­ter the Christchurch earth­quakes.

Un­der the new regime, 20 staff will be spread across of­fices in Thorn­don, Lower Hutt, Porirua, Kapiti and the Wairarapa.

There was also a strong net­work of vol­un­teers, said Mr Pep­perell.

‘‘Welling­ton city has a ro­bust, vi­brant net­work of vol­un­teers and I would like to take that model and use it throughout the re­gion,’’ he said.

‘‘If there are other good ini­tia­tives, even from other parts of the coun­try, we shouldn’t be too ashamed to use them.’’

Mr Pep­perell comes from a mil­i­tary back­ground, hav­ing spent 36 years in the New Zealand Navy.

‘‘There are a lot of par­al­lels [in this role] with the mil­i­tary. I was a lo­gis­ti­cian, the anti-war­rior. The war­riors broke ev­ery­thing; I fixed it all up.’’

But civil de­fence is not just about ‘‘fix­ing things.’’ It is also about en­sur­ing res­i­dents are pre­pared for nat­u­ral dis­as­ters.

‘‘Ninety-nine per cent of the time we don’t have emer­gen­cies, so what we should be do­ing is spend­ing that time build­ing community re­silience.

‘‘And it’s not just about earth­quakes. An earth­quake could arrive to­mor­row or in 500 years, but ev­ery year there are sig­nif­i­cant floods and storms some­where in New Zealand. We need to be ready for those too.’’

To en­cour­age in­di­vid­u­als and or­gan­i­sa­tions to take dis­as­ter prepa­ra­tion se­ri­ously, civil de­fence is host­ing Shake­out, a na­tion­wide earth­quake drill.

‘‘At 9.26am on Septem­ber 26, ev­ery­one who has reg­is­tered will be expected to drop, cover and hold. That’s re­ally the ba­sis of the ex­er­cise,’’ said Mr Pep­perell.

‘‘ We want peo­ple to reg­is­ter them­selves, their fam­i­lies, schools, firms.’’

To reg­is­ter for Shake­out visit get­thru.org.nz or shake­out.govt.nz.

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