Kirstin Thompson has plenty of experience working with older people and people with disability – she’s a project manager for Enliven, a division of Presbyterian Support East Coast. Kirstin’s background meant she was the perfect fit to lead the older persons network as part of the Hawke's Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management Group's ‘network of networks’ – community organisations and agencies working collaboratively with the group, to look after the welfare needs of the Hawke’s Bay community.
Kirstin has been working with the HBCDEM team for the last nine weeks as part of the COVID-19 welfare response.
“I haven’t worked in emergency response since the infamous Y2K scenario, and it is very different to ‘peacetime’ efforts. The intensity, the knowledge that this unknown beast called COVID-19 had the potential for catastrophic outcomes if it all went pear-shaped, and the understanding that this would have the greatest effect on the most vulnerable in our society, created an environment where we all needed to think well outside our box.
“We were always having to think about worst-case scenarios and finding solutions for them, as we had no real idea how it would play out for us in Hawke’s Bay. The first few weeks of this response were incredible, exhausting, humbling and emotional – certainly not comfortable or boring.
“The Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management Group team has been very patient with my early learnings around terminology (I felt like everyone was speaking a foreign language at first), systems and processes. Working in a state of national of emergency is challenging enough without misunderstanding half the conversations!
“I learnt how lucky we are to live in New Zealand where we have this national Civil Defence body to wrap around us in times of disaster. I feel incredibly special to be a part of this response and now have a greater understanding of what it takes to protect our people while in the depths of a disaster.
“I have been privileged to work with and be the glue in the older persons network. It has allowed me to be in a familiar space and connect with incredibly passionate professionals who are committed to looking after our precious taonga, our community elders. I have never before had the honour of working so efficiently and collaboratively, across different sectors that work within the older persons space in Hawke’s Bay. It’s been incredible. Their passion and true desire to not let anyone fall through the gap is infectious.”
19 May 2020
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