Emergency office criticised
Training not wide enough
The regional emergency management office is putting the future of skilled community response teams at risk, a Porirua civil defence coordinator has said.
Robyn Moore, a Porirua Emergency Response Team volunteer, has asked Porirua City Council to review the way money for regional emergency management is shared because of concern local volunteers are missing out on vital training and resources.
‘‘If we continue the way we’re going, we won’t have a response team,’’ Moore told councillors at draft annual plan hearings last Monday.
Since the Wellington Regional Emergency Management Office was established in 2012, the council has contributed about $200,000 a year to the office.
Moore said since the emergency management office took over there was less training available for community volunteers, particularly expert training, and no funding for gear, which is putting the team at risk.
‘‘ We’ve got less to offer [volunteers]. We can’t offer them ground-based training, we can’t offer them ropes exercise work, we can’t access expert knowledge any more.’’
Moore said the team had been called to support in emergencies like the February 2011 Christchurch earthquakes and having training such as pre- hospital emergency care and knowing how to work together as a team was invaluable.
‘‘When emergency services are overwhelmed there is a real need for these types of response teams. In Christchurch, I absolutely saw the need to use them. We’re not being supported any more.’’
Moore is also co-ordinator of the Pukerua Bay Civil Defence and Community Response Team and said communication has fallen down more than once since the regional emergency management office was set up.
A radio system used by the team in emergencies has been kept at the local school since 2009, but was shifted to a different location on the grounds by the emergency management office, though Moore said only one volunteer was told of its new location and had a key to access it.
Bruce Pepperell, Wellington Regional Emergency Management Office manager, said the radio was shifted before his organisation was established and that teams still had access to core training.
Recognised New Zealand response teams had access to training such as rescue at height or ground-based rescue, but the Porirua team was not one of them, Pepperell said.
He said the Porirua team was supported by city council to train to an urban search and rescue standard, but he did not see the point in giving teams specialist medical training.
‘‘There is little point in civil defence sponsoring specialist medical training where it requires regular maintenance to remain current.
‘‘ People who desire more specialist medical support training are better off joining either Wellington Free Ambulance or St John.’’
He said the emergency management office had logged some significant achievements since its establishment, and change was an opportunity to rethink the way things were done.
Staunch defence: Wellington Regional Emergency Management Office manager Bruce Pepperell says his office has logged some significant achievements.