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Regional emergency exercise starts this week

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How would Hawke’s Bay fare in an emergency?

Organisations across the region are getting ready to take part in Exercise Rūaumoko, which will test Hawke’s Bay’s arrangements for preparing for, responding to and recovering from a major emergency.

Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management Group manager Ian Macdonald said the exercise would take place over five days immediately following New Zealand ShakeOut at 1.30pm on 17 October, and would involve emergency services, local government, utility providers and volunteering organisations.

Mr Macdonald said the exercise was a chance to test emergency processes at a local and regional level, and the new emergency coordination facility in Hastings.

“In a major emergency, we’d need a significant and coordinated response and recovery effort,” Mr Macdonald said.

“Exercise Rūaumoko will prompt a full-scale activation of Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management Group and our regional partners’ capabilities.

“The risk of large-scale emergencies such as an earthquake is very real and we must be prepared, so this is an opportunity for all of these organisations to practise their processes, decision-making and communications.”

Mr Macdonald said much of the exercise detail wouldn’t be revealed until day one, so there was an element of surprise for participating agencies.

“They know their readiness for natural disaster is being tested, but they won’t know the full extent until they arrive.

“We’re playing it cold to see how our training and preparation works in practice, but the fact that it’s off the back of New Zealand ShakeOut might be a bit of a clue.

“We’ll be testing our region’s volunteer emergency response teams as they establish their response facilities and communication channels, shift handover arrangements, and recovery management.

“We'll be hit with all of these things at once, as well as trying to understand how big the scale and scope of the emergency is, to make sure we test our response arrangement under pressure – simulating, as closely as we can, the stressful environment we’d be facing in real life.”

Mr Macdonald said the exercise was part of the group’s work to test and refine its response to significant disasters.

“This is about simulating a realistic scenario where we need to communicate extensively between agencies, deploy resources, plan evacuations and arrange welfare assistance.

“Exercise Rūaumoko has an important role to play in helping us identify any gaps in our response and recovery in Hawke’s Bay.”

Mr Macdonald said everyone could be more prepared for emergencies, from individuals to communities and organisations.

“Sudden-impact emergencies happen without warning, but there is a lot we can do to prepare so we can instinctively cope better.

“We all need to practise our drop, cover hold and if we’re a coastal area our tsunami hīkoi to high ground, and we should all have emergency plans for our homes and workplaces.

“Everyone can get involved in the exercise by taking part in New Zealand ShakeOut, including evacuating to your nearest safe location if you’re in a tsunami zone.  

“Tag us on Facebook at @hbemergency and we’ll use the information you provide as part of our exercise.”  

Sign up for ShakeOut at www.shakeout.govt.nz    

17 October 2019

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