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Civil defenders prepare to cope in a disaster

Jul 19th, 2010 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News


INFO ENTHUSIAST: Jim Glynan is an expert in what to do in a disaster.

A SMALL team from the Karori Civil Defence Group transformed St Ninian’s Church into a working information centre recently – just as they would during a real disaster.

But about 30 to 40 people would be needed if disaster struck, says manager Barrie Keenan.

Around 30 members of the public showed up to learn more about the group – a good turnout, says Mr Keenan.

He says in a real disaster, the group would be ready to operate in two days provided that their facilities were intact. It would have an information role while medical and welfare centres would be providing practical help.

Since members of the community would be somewhat left to fend for themselves during the early stages of a disaster, a major part of the group’s focus is raising community awareness of how to prepare for a catastrophe.

Operations manager Paul Drysdale says one of the largest problems in a disaster would be dealing with public expectations, as the Civil Defence Group’s role does not include providing medical aid and welfare.

The group would set up a station providing information to the public, reconnoitring the Karori area and providing status updates to the Wellington Emergency Management Office.

Information officer Jim Glynan would be responsible for running the information centre. It would provide maps showing welfare centres (likely to be Karori Medical Centre and Karori West Normal School) as well as hazards in the local area and a message board for displaced families to contact each other.

Operations manager Paul Drysdale is responsible for co-ordinating the entire station from the operations room. The former NZ Army communications officer runs the station like a military post.

Karori Civil Defence Group is a volunteer organisation and primarily funds itself. It receives a yearly $500 grant and most of its gear from Greater Wellington Regional Council.

The group attracts most of its members by attending Karori school and church fairs.

Front page photo: Cheng Health Foundation

How to prepare your family for a disaster

Have a plan. Be prepared for where to go in a disaster and make sure every family member knows how to get back in contact with each other.

Put aside a supply of emergency food, water, cooking gear and heating equipment.

If you are on medication always have at least a month’s advance supply.

Remember to plan for preserving pets and comfort items (these will help you cope).

Get together with other families to cook on a communal BBQ. This will make gas rations last longer.

The biggest challenge is to be mentally prepared for the changes a major disaster would cause. There may be no food, no power and widespread and traumatising destruction.

Source: Barrie Keenan, Karori Civil Defence Group manager

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  1. Hi there,

    Interesting article.

    One thing: “Karori Normal West School” should be “Karori West Normal School”


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