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Major SI Civil Defence Exercise to Use Earthquake Scenario

Major South Island Civil Defence Exercise to Use Earthquake Scenario

The readiness of Otago councils to respond to a major earthquake will be tested during a South Island wide exercise later this month.

The exercise, named Te Ripahapa (loosely translated as Alpine Fault earthquake) will run from 9am to 9pm on Wednesday May 29.

Otago Civil Defence Emergency Management Group co-ordinator Graeme Hall said the exercise would allow the Otago CDEM Group (Otago territorial authorities, and emergency and social services) to practice response co-ordination with the region.

“The emphasis will be on practising reporting systems and operational procedures, while also testing communications and managing the prioritisation of resources,” Mr Hall said.

The exercise would provide an opportunity to apply lessons learned during the two major Canterbury earthquakes to operational procedures.

“A rupture of the Great Alpine Fault would potentially cause widespread damage throughout many parts of the South Island. The onus is not only on the community to be prepared for such events, but also on the Civil Defence authorities”, Mr Hall said.

Exercise participants would be expected to react to a scenario presented to them as they would for a real emergency. The scenario, prepared by Canterbury University, is based on a rupture of the Alpine Fault occurring in the middle of the night.

Mr Hall said this would be one of the largest exercises conducted in recent times. It would be a thorough test of the people and systems involved in response. Clutha and Waitaki District Councils were working with local communities to plan physical activities in the field, involving evacuation and welfare registration for example.

The Otago CDEM Group would liaise closely with its Southland counterpart during the exercise. Apart from councils, other agencies including the NZ Police, Fire Service, St John, Ministry of Social Development, Southern District Health Board, Meridian Energy, Contact Energy, and Delta would participate.

About 40 people would be involved in the exercise at the Otago Group office based at the ORC, with a further 150 people likely to be involved at emergency operations centres throughout the region, Mr Hall said.

ENDS

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