Archive for March, 2011
Around the 13th of March, I started posting ideas on Facebook of what I’d like to see in the recovery in Christchurch. One of my posts was the following:
New Chch: Oh, and of course a world leading research centre for natural hazards, earthquake engineering and construction, resilient organisations and communities, risk management, business continuity, crisis management, emergency management and all forms of technology to support this. We have a fair amount of this here already, but let’s tightly integrate it into a more integrated cross-platform centre.
Justin Lewis then went on to suggest in my comments that we have a purpose built Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) and Rescue Operations Centre, as well as an Urban Search and Rescue training ground (I’ve been to VA-TF1′s training centre and equipment store in Virginia, US, back in 2002 and it was fantastic). I also added in the comments that the EOC should also be able to operate as an alternative or supporting National Crisis Management Centre – in particularly for when Wellington has their large earthquake. Jon Mitchell, the Regional CDEM Manager has also been promoting similar views.
Of course, the artificial limit of 420 charaters on Facebook points some real constraints on what you can say, so my plan was always to take the time to flesh it out in more detail when time allowed. Well, I’m now taking the time to do so.
Before the earthquakes of September 4, 2010, and February 22, 2011 – Christchurch was already well advanced when it comes to research into natural hazards, engineering, social science and emergency management – and this is one of the reasons why our response to February 22 has been generally highly regarded internationally. We also had a lot of capacity and capability in operational response – for a while we held the lion’s share of NZ Response Teams, as well as being hosts to one of the three Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces (NZ USAR TF2).
To give you a little background, here are some of the ‘centres’ and organisations that have been in place in Christchurch over the years.
- The Emergency Management Training Centre – this was originally the training arm of the Canterbury Regional Council, but has progressed into its own NZQA Private Training Establishment.
- The New Zealand Centre for Advanced Engineering – an engineering and technology think-tank that has done a lot of work around natural hazards, including Engineering Lifelines, Reviews, Natural Hazard Risk Management and Communication, and Public Alerting.
- The Natural Hazards Research Centre based at the University of Canterbury – research programmes related to studies of active tectonics and earthquakes, landscape evolution modelling, land-use planning, urban vulnerability to volcanic eruptions and health risks from eruptions.
- Earthquake Engineering at the University of Canterbury College of Engineering
- Resilient Organisations – represents a synthesis of engineering disciplines and business leadership aimed at transforming NZ organisations into those that both survive major events and thrive in the aftermath.
- NZ Registered USAR Response Teams – we also have 5 of New Zealand’s 18 Registered Response Teams.
- NZ USAR Search Dog Association – of which 9 of the 11 dogs and handlers are located in Christchurch and associated with USAR TF2 (the other two are based in Auckland).
So, Christchurch and Canterbury already have a significant in-region capability across many disciplines – including operational, strategic, policy and research.
We now have the potential to build a world class centre for emergency management and related disciplines that could bring many of these disparate activities together onto a single campus. What a shining light this could be as part of long term recovery from the earthquakes, than to build a nationally and internationally recognised centre.
What would be some of the key capabilities it should have:
- Concentrated – all the facilities should be on a single physical campus to ensure close proximity and collaboration, and integrated under a single administrative structure (if possible).
- EOC – a world class Emergency Operations Centre that supports not only local and regional response, but also can act as an alternate National EOC. This facility would also be a dedicated routine facility for emergency management for Christchurch and Canterbury.
- Internationally-recognised Training Centre – there should be an operationally-focused training centre as part of the facility, that integrates not only the EMTC, but also includes full facilities to undertake not only Urban Search and Rescue, but other specialist search disciplines such as Heights/Ropes and Search Dogs. Again, there are elements of this dotted around Christchurch, such as at the Woolston Fire Station where USAR TF2 is based, but again, this should be completely integrated into this campus, and the training facilities again need to be world class. The facility needs to be capable of supporting training and exercises up to, and including, the extremely challenging 72 hour USAR exercises for Category 2 USAR technicians and engineers.
- Strategy and Policy – thinking about the big pictures issues such as humanities increasing vulnerability to risk, and the strategic and policy decisions required, that have to be managed in terms far longer that three-year political spells.
- Integrated research – currently a lot of the research programmes are not fully integrated and the researchers work out of many different departments. This could be turned on its head and the new programme could ensure that all related disciplines are working in close proximity to not only each other, but also the practitioners.
- New disciplines – such a centre should also look at expanding research and operations into new areas that have not yet been included, and leveraging on Kiwi inginuity and design excellence. Kiwi’s could being a lot to the table in terms of development of technology and IT for risk and emergency management, an area I feel that Kiwi’s are not yet pulling their weight.
- International links – any such centre must not operate in isolation, and there are many relevant forms of partnerships that could be made, including the likes of the Emergency Management Division of the Justice Institute of British Colombia, FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute, and platforms such as the United Nations Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction and Integrated Research on Disaster Risk.
We’ve been handed some lemons – let’s make some lemonade and turn Christchurch into a world class centre for emergency management and related disciplines!
I received a handout of this from our friend and neighbouring psychologist at work, and thought I’d type it up and make it available online. This comes from the New Zealand College of Clinical Psychologists – the actual pdf and other resources are available here.
Routines – ‘Familiarity is comforting’
Keep up normal activities
Treasure familiar things
Stay connected – ‘We need each other’
Stay in touch with family and friends
Take moments to give others your full attention
Listen and answer children’s questions simply
Be brave for each other
Ask for and accept help
Save your energy – ’Keep it for important things’
Lower expectations of yourself and others
Take breaks and lighten your workloads
Be tolerant of yourself and others
Lots of things can wait
Children may act younger – that’s ok for a while
Lifestyle – ‘Balance is healthy’
Stay active e.g. go for a walk
Relax – take a break
Try to get enough sleep
Try to eat well
Do something nice for yourself
Safety – ‘Protect yourself in every way’
Limit exposure to earthquake news e.g. TV
You are not helpless – remember the things you do well
Take care of your spiritual and emotional health
It is ok to be emotional
For extra support contact your GP, or phone 0800 777 846, or go to http://www.canterburyearthquake.org.nz/.