When a disaster strikes it is ordinary members of the public, not emergency services, who are the initial responders. This is a community response. Through community response planning, communities can better understand how they may assist each other before, during and after a disaster.
In rural areas of New Zealand it is almost certain that isolated communities will need to look after themselves for a period of time while waiting for emergency relief to be deployed. This has been evident with recent disasters such as the 2020 Flooding event.
The knowledge, potential and power of local communities to respond to emergency events is internationally recognised. Emergency Management Southland has developed this concept by working with our communities for the past 5 years to develop community hubs.
The best people to prepare for, respond to and recover from an emergency are those who know, understand and are part of that community. By coming together to develop Community Response Plans, communities will ensure they’re as ready as possible for any adverse event which may affect them.
This proposed lecture will be in two parts.
Part one: Will focus on the process of developing Community-led response in emergency events. The journey from centralised Civil Defence leadership in New Zealand to community empowerment and how this has created safer, stronger communities who understand and live with the hazards in their area.
Part two: The largest aerial evacuation in New Zealand history took place after over 1000mm of rain fell in the iconic Milford Sound. A short case study will be presented on this and how local community (including LandSAR) played an integral part in the evacuation process with the setting up and managing of Community Emergency Hubs (community-led evacuation centres). As well as providing important intelligence to Emergency Management Southland’s response.