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Don’t panic – it’s all pretend

12 November 2012

Don’t panic – it’s all pretend

If Wellingtonians see a bunch of people breaking into and clambering over the Berkeley Dallard Apartments in Nairn Street this Sunday (18 November), there’s no need to phone The Police – Wellington City’s Emergency Response Team (WERT) is hosting the three other teams from the Wellington region and a team from Nelson for a rescue and recovery exercise. WERT is sponsored by Wellington City Council.

Several mock ‘victims’ will be placed throughout the apartment block to be rescued for this regional exercise, where up to 150 people – all volunteers – will take part.

Participants will use any way they can to help the victims including being lowered from heights, climbing ladders and manoeuvring stretchers through tricky stairwells.

Any passersby that are tempted to enter the site will be sent away – this is to ensure everyone’s safety on the day.

The response teams participating in this exercise are part of a group of 17 teams from around New Zealand that are registered with the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management. These teams are trained to rescue people on ground level sites or help the task force with more complicated work in urban search and rescue.

The teams also train for storm and flood response, swift water rescue and high-angle rescue. While all teams are sponsored by local authorities or a charitable trust, the Wellington Regional Emergency Management Office coordinates their training and activities during an emergency. All teams were deployed to Christchurch following the February 2011 earthquake.

Wellington City now has 34 fully trained volunteers for such work, and this exercise is to strengthen their skills and put what they’ve learnt into practice. The mock victims have training in civil defence awareness.

It’s likely that Wellington City will host a nationwide event next year. This Berkeley Dallard exercise, which will take up to 12 hours to complete, will act as a practice run for that.

The exercise starts at 11am this Sunday and should be complete by 7pm, but it could finish later. People are asked not to approach the site during this time.


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