April 2016

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There’s never really a quiet time for Civil Defence Emergency Management and the last two months have been no exception. With several weather-related issues over February and March, my thanks goes to all of those that provided assistance, advice and support on the ground.

The safe and successful evacuation of those affected by the Waiho River flooding demonstrates again the important role of people working together in times of emergency. It has also been great to see the Youth in Emergency Services programme unfolding, helping educate and involve young people in civil defence emergency management. Some great stories and photos from the Taumarunui and Bream Bay programmes are included below. Work on the development of the National Disaster Resilience strategy continues apace. The first workshops are this week so remember to register if you’d like to attend.  We’re also deep into planning for Exercise Tangaroa and our National Conference find out more below.

Amongst all this we’ve been reviewing e-Bulletin and Impact to ensure they are delivering the news and information you want to see, where, when and how you want to see it.  Now we’d like your help, click the button below and fill out a short survey. Tell us what you think, what you like and what you don't and we'll do the rest. 

We intend e-Bulletin to continue to provide our stakeholders with a way to share local, regional and national activities and achievements, highlight case studies and best practice and to advertise recruitment and training opportunities. For now, we're planning bi-monthly issues (so the next one will be in early June). Impact is likely to become an annual publication, focusing on the strategic side of MCDEM. It will review key developments and projects from throughout the year and forecast the coming year. It will provide valuable information for CEG Chairs, Managers and leaders across all aspects of the 4R's and resilience. That's our (draft) plan. Fill out the survey and tell us what you think. We'll also be changing the way we ask for stories - be sure to read the 'Got a story?' article at the bottom of this issue for more information. 

Sarah Stuart-Black, Director, Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management

Volunteers assisting with the Velvetleaf response 

The Scenic Hotel after Waiho River flooding

Civil Defence wine saving the day



Get Ready Get Thru: Change is Coming

We are redeveloping our public education programme to focus on New Zealand’s least prepared and most vulnerable people. The current programme is 10 years old and definitely due a shake up.

Colmar Brunton research shows that less than a third of the country is prepared for an emergency. Reasons for this range from complacency to lack of time or motivation to not expecting an event to happen. Our least prepared, and therefore most vulnerable, people are low-income earners, non-English speakers, new migrants, Auckland residents and people under 30.

Bridget Cheesman, MCDEM’s Public Education Advisor, is leading this work and says ‘since the introduction of the existing programme ten years ago, the demographics and behaviours of New Zealander’s have changed significantly. It’s time that our public education programme changed to match. There is a much higher number of migrants, particularly Asian people. There have also been significant changes in the way we communicate and receive information -such as much more use of social media many less people paying attention to TV ads.’

The National Public Education Reference Group (NPERG), made up of a representative from each CDEM Group, met for two days at the end of February to share current resources and shape the direction for the redeveloped programme. The group agreed on a programme mission “To empower Kiwis to take responsibility for their emergency preparedness” – and vision “Emergency preparedness is part of everyday life.”

The NPERG team agreed Get Ready Week 2016 will run from 10 - 16 October. It will focus on children and school programmes. Bridget is co-ordinating the redevelopment of ‘What’s the Plan Stan’ for Get Ready Week and discussing resources and requirements with Groups  She is also talking with the Ministry of Education, ACC and St John to encourage schools to use the new resources.

The redeveloped programme will be launched by the end of the financial year. It will have new creative elements and strategies but will tie in with the existing ‘Get Ready Get Thru’ branding and resources.  If you have any questions, contact your Group NPERG representative, or email Bridget.


MCDEM meets with Salvation Army

In February MCDEM Director Sarah Stuart-Black and other senior staff from MCDEM met with members of The Salvation Army Executive Leadership Team, Commissioner Robert Donaldson Territorial Commander for New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga and  Commissioner Janine Donaldson Territorial President of Women's Ministries.

The meeting was an opportunity to learn more about each other’s organisations and how we can best work together. It was agreed to meet annually, MCDEM will host The Salvation Army in February 2017.  

MCDEM Staff Complete ITF Intermediate Course 

Over half of MCDEM staff have now been through the intermediate ITF (Integrated Training Framework) course, thanks to wise and patient trainers, Lee Hazlewood and Shane Briggs.

Over the last month, Lee and Shane have run two courses for MCDEM. Helping ensure we are in sync with you. The training courses were brilliant at generating discussions and sharing insights about emergency management at EOC, ECC and NCMC level. Shared understandings of what works where and when, and who needs what when, go a long way towards facilitating the smooth management of emergencies.

MCDEM staff were highly engaged with the courses and much banter was heard from trainers and trainees alike.  In future, all MCDEM staff will complete the ITF suite of courses and we’re looking forward to assisting in the development of the advanced courses.

Thanks again to Lee and Shane for their effective delivery of the course, and providing valuable insight into the way Groups operate.

REMINDER: National Conference, tickets selling fast!

National Conference is on 1-2 June with workshops 31 May and 3 June. Topics include emerging hazards and risks, global and domestic trends, disaster risk reduction and resilience, innovations in response and recovery capability, and stepping up communications, public education and community resilience. Tickets are selling fast so make sure you’ve got yours.

Register now

Controllers Development Programme - second 2016 cohort and new programme brochure

The first 2016 cohort has begun with an impressive 25 people enrolled. The second 2016 cohort dates are:

  • End of July – nominations open
  • September – online component commences
  • November – Residential component commences

The brochure has been amended to include changes to the programme resulting from the review earlier this year. Copies will be sent to all Groups and published online as soon as they are available. 

REMINDER: National Disaster Resilience Strategy Workshops

MCDEM has three regional workshops happening this month.  Workshops will be part information sharing, part discussion activities, as we begin to test some early concepts and assumptions for the National Disaster Resilience Strategy .

  • Thurs 7th  April – Tauranga, 12– 4, Club Mount Maunganui
  • Mon 11th April  - Wellington,  11.30–3,  The Royal Society
  • Weds 13th April – Christchurch, 11.30– 3,  Christchurch City Council

Places are limited. Register below. Please include your name, role and organisation, CDEM Group, email address and which session you want to attend.

Exercise Tangaroa Newsletters

2016's national tsunami exercise ‘Exercise Tangaroa’, is on 31 August, 14 September and 28 September 2016.

Sign up to our monthly newsletters to find out more. These newsletters feature updates on exercise preparations, tsunami work happening across the country and more.


Training and Resources

SAVE THE DATE: Emergency Media & Public Affairs Disaster Communications Conference 

Earlybird registrations open soon for the Disaster Communications Conference hosted by Emergency Media & Public Affairs in Auckland on August 15-16.

Topics include the role of community leadership in disaster recovery; overcoming the communications challenges of Cyclone Winston;  keynote addresses from UK-based Imogen Wall who specialises in improving communications between aid agencies and survivors of disasters; Mia Garlick from Facebook; and Sarah Stuart-Black, Director of MCDEM. 

New and improved Volcanic Ash Impacts & Mitigation Website 

The Volcanic Ash Impacts and Mitigation website has lots of new content, a new look and new navigation. Dr Graham Leonard (GNS Science volcanologist) describes the revised web page as “a web encyclopaedia providing information on the impacts of volcanic ash and mitigation strategies for dealing with them”. Volcanic-ash hazards are far reaching and disruptive, affecting more people, infrastructure, and daily activities than any other eruptive phenomena.

Content covers volcanic ash and gas, buildings, transportation, power supply, health, agriculture (plants and animals), water and waste water, equipment and communications, case studies, clean up and disposal, a ‘what can I do section’ and educational posters and booklets. 

For the Health sector there are also two booklets from the International Volcanic Health Hazard Network (IVHHN) as guides to preparedness and health issues. Case studies cover eruptions in the Philippines, New Zealand, Chile, Alaska, Papua New Guinea, the Caribbean, Vanuatu, Indonesia and Iceland.  

The page is hosted by the USGS Volcano Hazards Programme, with support from IAVCEI's CAV and IVHHN Commissions, GNS Science, Canterbury and Massey Universities to provide the content.

Sharing knowledge to mark the 5th anniversary of Tohoku tsunami

To commemorate the fifth anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake, the publishing company ‘Springer’ has put together a collection of resources spanning all areas of disaster-related research. The research provides constructive lessons for the future. Including; science on the analysis and impact of disasters, disaster risk reduction and prevention: from construction technology to treatment of PTSD.

The journal articles and listed related books are available until April 29th so take a look while you can.

Short Course: Planning for a Tsunami Crisis

How well will your organisation cope with a future tsunami crisis?

This two day course will present a state-of-the-art assessment of tsunami hazards in New Zealand, and will help you better understand how your organisation can better prepare for, and mitigate against, a future tsunami crisis.

The course is designed for those involved in all aspects of natural hazard management: planners, educators, engineers, local and central government policy makers, insurance managers, emergency managers and business, utility and property owners. It is timed to provide ideal preparation for Exercise Tangaroa, 2016 and is developed in conjunction with MCDEM with Exercise Tangaroa in mind.

For further information visit http://www.gns.cri.nz/tsunami-courseor to register, please email: d.barton@gns.cri.nz 

Find more information

Stakeholder Stories

Stella local effort in Franz Josef flooding from Waiho River riverbank collapse

During the night of Wednesday 23 March the Waiho River riverbank in Franz Joseph collapsed. The collapse resulted in flooding that threatened several buildings, including a hotel and a motor camp.  Due to the quick actions of locals, all affected people were evacuated safely. A state of local emergency was declared to facilitate the swift and co-ordinated response.

At 9.30pm the DOC Officer in Franz Josef reported to Westland District that the Waiho riverbank was being seriously eroded and was in danger of collapse.  The Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) at Westland was activated. Westland’s Civil Defence Emergency Management Officer (CDEMO) position is currently vacant so the Grey District CDEMO was asked to assist. With the river rising and more heavy rain forecast, it was likely the situation would become more serious.  Later that evening, the CDEMO and Controller of Grey District was sent home to get some sleep, planning to return to Franz Josef early the next day to establish an EOC.

However, during the night the river bank collapsed and water rushed through the gap creating a new river channel, cutting off the state highway and flooding a local hotel. Settlement ponds for sewerage treatment were inundated and raw sewerage entered the river.

The local DOC representative, Wayne Costello and the local volunteer Fire Chief, Tim Gibb had acted decisively putting the community response plan into effect, evacuating the hotel and nearby motor camp, undoubtedly saving people distress and maybe even saving lives.  186 people were evacuated and accommodated.  Red Cross and local accommodation providers assisted. Water pressure was lost for some time so a “boil water notice” was sent to all Franz Josef residents and businesses.  A local emergency was declared at 2:00am. The EOC in Hokitika monitored the situation until the EOC in Franz Josef was established.

As the water receded the State Highway was reopened. The Top 10 motor camp is back in business, however the hotel is badly damaged and unlikely to reopen.

Allan Wilson, Grey District’s CDEMO said ‘it is due to the quick actions of Wayne Costello and Tim Gibb that the situation was not much worse.  Credit should also be given to the Red Cross, DOC, and all the local volunteers.’

‘The CDEM staff who came from “over the hill” and the volunteers from Greymouth and Hokitika were also of great benefit.  Our thanks to you all, without your help the situation could have been much, much worse.’

The Waiho river turning right from its old course

Sewage ponds spilling raw sewage into the river

Scenic Hotel 2 (taken from the air) 

Scenic Hotel  - Taken from the road at about 830am


Youth in Emergency Services (YES): Bream Bay, air crash scenario tests Northland youngsters

Fifteen young people nominated from Bream Bay and surrounding communities have been building hands-on emergency services skills through the national Youth in Emergency Services (YES) programme.

The final exercise in the four-week, hands-on Youth in Emergency Services programme was a Whangarei Harbour based scenario of dealing with injured and missing people and a fire following a simulated midair collision. The exercise involved around 75 people drawn from agencies including NZ Police, NZ Fire Service, Rural Fire, Ruakaka Surf Lifesaving, St John Ambulance, NZ Red Cross, Whangarei Coastguard, the NEST helicopter and a private Skyworks helicopter, and the Northland Civil Defence Emergency Management Group.

Programme participants will be graduating this week, in a formal ceremony to which their parents have been invited. They will be offered the opportunity to volunteer for two months with the emergency service of their choice.

The programme is designed to strengthen the connection between young people and their communities and is funded by the Ministries of Youth Development and Civil Defence and Emergency Management.


Youth in Emergency Services (YES) Taumarunui: 6 week programme boosts confidence and grows skills

Fourteen Taumarunui High School students aged between 14 and 17 are taking part in the inaugural YES programme to learn about the different emergency service organisations.

Over the six week programme students spend time with various emergency services taking part in training and exercises covering what that service would actually do in a real-life civil defence or emergency situation.

Emergency Services Programme Coordinator Rayden Horton said that it was amazing to see the development progress in the students’ skills and self-confidence.

“This is no ‘walk in the park’ and is really challenging the students who are enjoying the hands-on, practical aspects of the exercises and that they all have a very real feel to them,” he said.

 “For the last part of the programme the students will spend a weekend at the Army base in Waiouru where they will take part in a series of emergency response scenarios which they are all really looking forward to.”

 “In addition to learning the theory of emergency response planning they also get to handle and use actual equipment that would be used in responding to an emergency event. So far this has included first aid response training through to practicing putting out controlled burns with firefighting equipment.”

In addition to providing the students with valuable life skills and confidence it is hoped that the programme will interest some of them in joining an emergency service organisation as a volunteer or consider a career in one of the services.

Organised and run by Ruapehu District Council emergency services with funding from the Ministry of Youth Development, the programme involves the NZ Fire Service, Rural Fire, St John ambulance, LandSAR, Police and the Defence Force.

Mr Horton said he hoped the Ministry of Youth Development would fund the programme every year. “If funding is approved for the programme next year we will take it to Ruapehu College in Ohākune and then hopefully have on-going funding to run it on a year about basis with Taumarunui High School.”


Southland find 60 velvetleaf plants in major biosecurity response

Emergency Management Southland is supporting the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) response to the ‘Velvetleaf’ pest plant in Southland.

Environment Southland are supplying warranted biosecurity officers and we have been joined by MPI and AssureQuality staff to carry out field inspections. With at least 1400 ha of fodder beet to inspect in a 2 week window before the plants mature, it’s a big job.

On a typical day teams of people gather for an 8am briefing in the morning. The team on any one day can be over 70 people. They go into the fields around Southland to look for Velvetleaf and are generally back by 5pm for debrief and a well earned rest.

Emergency Management Southlands’ EOC is helping with planning, sorting out food and vehicles, recording and mapping all the inspection data coming in and liaising with MPI nationally.

The plants in Southland are much smaller than those reported elsewhere in New Zealand, making the job of finding them a much harder task.

Velvetleaf has been discovered in fodder beet crops in the North and South Islands. It is one of the world’s worst cropping weeds, affecting many arable crops. So far we have found eleven immature plants so it looks likely we have an opportunity to get rid of this pest before it becomes established in Southland.

United Fire Brigades' Association helps develop medical first responder badge

The New Zealand Fire Service has developed a badge to recognise firefighters who are qualified to deliver medical first response. Firefighters attend more than 9000 medical callouts every year. A fire service appliance often arrives before the ambulance—the badge will show firefighters are medically trained.

Read more

Port Waikato residents use emergency wine to avoid disaster

Wine might not be the first thing you put into your emergency survival kit, but for Port Waikato residents, 'Panic Proof Pinot' was the booze on offer to entice the community to prepare for an emergency.

The rural and somewhat isolated town has created a community response team, responsible for coordinating the town's emergency management plan.

The group's coordinator, Karen Opie, said the giveaway was to encourage people to sign up their equipment and skills on a register. Cheers to being prepared!

Read more

Check out our rears

In July 2015 Emergency Management Bay of Plenty (EMBOP) was established as a shared civil defence emergency management service in the Bay of Plenty Region.

One of the outcomes has been standardisation of the EMBOP fleet branding across all the civil defence vehicles in the region. EMBOP took the opportunity to also use the vehicles as mobile billboards that can help promote key preparedness messages to the public.

And they’re keeping it fresh! To make sure the same messages aren’t always displayed in the same towns, they’ve been printed on magnetic bumper decals which can be rotated around different vehicles each month. Messaging is also done for specific events such as ShakeOut, where all the vehicles displayed the same messages.

Oregon's thin blue line

The State of Oregon Emergency Management Agency has adopted its own version of the WREMO Blue Lines Project. The project was revealed on the 5-year anniversary of the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami that struck Japan. The Tsunami Blue Line Project, marks clear evacuation routes in high-risk inundation zones using blue lines to mark the safety zones.


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