Exercise Rū Whenua – South Island CDEM Groups test the SAFER Framework
The six South Island CDEM (Civil Defence Emergency Management) Groups and their partner agencies recently practiced a South Island-wide response to a major Alpine Fault earthquake. Exercise Rū Whenua Whakariterite (Prepare for Earthquake), which took place on Friday 22nd November, involved 30 agencies from across the six South Island regions and representatives from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in Wellington.
“The 2010/2011 Canterbury earthquake and 2016 Kaikōura earthquake events, together with resulting discussions between the six CDEM Groups in the South Island, identified a need to advance a 2019 exercise scenario that would support all South Island CDEM Groups to assess and strengthen inter and intra CDEM Group coordination.” – Exercise Director, James Thompson of the Canterbury CDEM Group.
“The Exercise Scenario was based on the hazard scenario developed for the AF8 [Alpine Fault magnitude 8] project in 2016 and the exercise was designed to test components of the SAFER Framework, specifically communication capabilities and the immediate response actions outlined in the Framework. Additionally, each CDEM Group exercised local objectives specific to their region.” explains Mr Thompson.
“The SAFER Framework outlines our agreed actions for the first 7 days of response, testing it in an exercise is similar to practising our own emergency plans at home.” – AF8 Chair, Angus McKay of Emergency Management Southland
“The next Alpine Fault earthquake will have wide-spread impacts across New Zealand, communication networks will be particularly tested and it is critical we have these conversations, coordinate our planning and continue to build inter-agency relationships in advance.
“Practising our plan enables us to develop our response capabilities and enhance coordination across the regions, everyone has a role to play and it’s vital we are able to work together from the get-go.” says Mr McKay.
“[The exercise] was a great opportunity to test out our means of communications… The more times we can put everyone together in one room to practice our own roles, appreciate/understand the roles of others and to build these relationships the better off we will all be in the real event!” – Anonymous participant
The first few hours of the exercise tested participants abilities to communicate without mains power or network communications.
“Following an AF8 earthquake, we may not know all the details straight away – location, magnitude, intensity etc – especially if communications are disrupted” says AF8 Science-Lead, Dr. Caroline Orchiston from the University of Otago.
“We can’t predict when or where it will be, but we can be better prepared in advance. We will all feel it and we will be affected, directly or indirectly. Talking with your family, friends and neighbours, having a plan in place and practising it is an excellent place to start.” advises Dr. Orchiston.
How to be better prepared
Taking actions to be better prepared will make life easier during and after an emergency like an Alpine Fault earthquake.
- Talk to friends and neighbours about being prepared for an earthquake. Are there ways you can support each other?
- Make an emergency plan with your family/household and practice it.
- Find out where to go for information, eg. radio stations, websites.
- Make a Household Emergency Kit and refresh it every 6 months.
- Prepare enough food, water and supplies to be able to look after yourselves for at least 7 days.
- Have a getaway / go-bag ready in case you need to be evacuated.
- Find out about natural hazards in your area and how to keep safe.
For more advice check out: getready.govt.nz and www.eqc.govt.nz/be-prepared
Exercise Rū Whenua Whakariterite is part of an ongoing series of activities to continue conversations and knowledge sharing around large natural hazard events like an Alpine Fault earthquake, ensuring that communities and agencies are collectively better prepared.