Boost for civil defence
Almost three years after being labelled the region in the country least prepared for an emergency, Waikato’s civil defence stocks have received a boost.
Waikato Civil Defence Emergency Management Group has signed an agreement with the board of the Mystery Creek Events Centre allowing the group to use the centre in a large-scale emergency.
Group controller Lee Hazlewood said the arrangement would save ratepayers tens of thousands of dollars a year and was a great example of ‘‘good corporate citizenship’’.
The Mystery Creek board approached civil defence offering their headquarters and facilities as a backup for the group’s Hamilton emergency co-ordination centre in Victoria St.
Mystery Creek’s new events centre was built with extra wireless internet capacity and external electrical hook-ups to support portable office containers.
‘‘Normally we’d have to pay a retainer of about $30,000 a year for retaining facilities as an emergency backup,’’ Mr Hazlewood.
‘‘This is a fantastic example of an organisation thinking of themselves as a member of the community.’’
Mr Hazlewood said Mystery Creek had significant logistical management expert- ise, which was also a tremendous asset for the group.
Next year civil defences starts an initiative to promote greater corporate citizenship with mid- and large-size businesses.
Mr Hazlewood said the initiative was a ‘‘two-way street’’, with the group keen to help businesses prepare contingency plans to deal with a major emergency.
In 2011 a government review assessed the Waikato’s civil defence organisation as inadequate, giving it a mark of 44.7 per cent – the lowest score of all regions in New Zealand.
Mr Hazlewood said that in the past two years the group had addressed 47 of the 76 recommendations in the assessment report.
Work on another 17 recommendations was under way.
‘‘ Having an expandable group coordination centre was one of those recommendations, so having this backup facility at Mystery Creek makes us more prepared in the region,’’ Mr Hazlewood said.
‘‘We scored low in several areas in the assessment report and have taken great steps to address all of the recommendations that came out of it.
‘‘We had very little capability before and we’re in a far better place than we were.’’