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North Shore City builds initial response unit

North Shore City builds initial response unit

North Shore City's Civil Defence Initial Response Unit continues to grow in strength and skills with 12 people qualified as Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) members, with the rest of the team following closely behind.

During the first weekend in July another USAR awareness course was held for those lifesavers who will be called on when disaster strikes and buildings fall. This course was also attended by members of Waitakere City Civil Defence Initial Response Unit, NZ Fire Service, NZ Police and NZ Red Cross. The-two day course taught participants about USAR response structures, safety and incident management, hazards associated with USAR operations, how buildings are constructed - and how they collapse, and how to save people when they do.

Peter Halliwell, North Shore Initial Response Unit Manager, says all participants were assessed throughout the course and have taken back to their respective organisations a greater awareness of urban search and rescue.

"Our Initial Response Unit is now enhancing its operating procedures to meet certain capability, administrative and training criteria. Once completed and approved our group can then register with the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management as a national resource to support USAR Task Force operations in addition to our primary role of supporting the North Shore City community, says Mr Halliwell, a long-time Glenfield resident.

"The team trains regularly in general rescue and associated skills such as medical and welfare management to ensure their competency remains current. We're meeting NZQA unit standards in response fields," says Mr Halliwell. Some of the team members are also volunteers with other agencies such as Ambulance, NZ Fire Service and Land Search and Rescue."

North Shore City's deputy mayor Dianne Hale praises the unit, its staff and volunteers for its devotion and all the hard work it puts into its Civil Defence role.

"Opportunities are also taken to liaise and train with other rescue teams such as Waitakere City's Initial Response Unit and Red Cross. A few members of the team also took part in the Wellington rescue exercise held over Queen's Birthday weekend," she says.

"Civil emergencies can happen anywhere, at any time, and it's reassuring to know that we have these committed, experienced and trained people able to help the community with their wide range of skills. Our congratulations go those members who gain their qualifications, and our thanks to those who are so devoted to the task. The USAR is now a vital and important resource," Dianne Hale says.

The team is still looking for more recruits and would like to hear from people interested in volunteering and rescue. They are invited to contact North Shore Civil Defence on 478 9696, or visit its website at www.nscd.org.nz for more information.

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