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Initial Response Unit ready for action

Initial Response Unit ready for action

July 21, 2004

Members of the North Shore Civil Defence Initial Response Unit are so well trained they could be sent to a disaster anywhere in the country at a moment's notice.

The unit was recently registered as one of only five teams nationwide in the Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) organisation.

The registration comes after two years of extra training and an external audit by the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management.

The principal role of the Initial Response Unit is to rescue people when disaster strikes, for example from a collapsed building after an earthquake.

North Shore Civil Defence Initial Response Unit manager, Peter Halliwell, says the unit is now a national resource in addition to its primary role supporting North Shore City.

"The team has put a lot of effort into general rescue training to get to this point, while keeping up its associated medical and welfare management skills," he says.

USAR combines the capabilities of emergency services nationwide, with specialist technical task forces supported by local community volunteer rescue teams.

North Shore City Mayor George Wood has been following the progress of the North Shore Civil Defence Initial Response Unit, and attended a USAR open day in Palmerston North earlier this year.

"It's fantastic to see our dedicated volunteers achieve this standard. My congratulations go to those who have gained registration, and my thanks to everyone committed to North Shore Civil Defence," says the former police inspector.

"Emergencies can happen anywhere, at any time, and it is reassuring to know we have these experienced people to help not only in our community, but in others too."

The Initial Response Team has been invited to take part in Operation Pegasus in Christchurch in September, the largest USAR training exercise to date in New Zealand.

Volunteers are the lifeblood of North Shore Civil Defence - more than 500 of them help prepare for disasters and give support during emergencies.

If you would like to become a volunteer, please contact North Shore Civil Defence on 478 9696, or visit www.northshorecity.govt.nz

North Shore City Council is investing $3.2m on civil defence emergency management over the next decade.


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