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Greymouth Better Prepared For Civil Defence Emergency

Media release – 23 January 2013

Greymouth Better Prepared For Civil Defence Emergency

The first person to graduate with a Diploma in Applied Emergency Management from Tai Poutini Polytechnic believes Greymouth is now better prepared to cope with a disaster. Grey District Council’s Civil Defence Emergency Management Officer Allan Wilson is the first student to graduate with the new diploma qualification. He began studying part time in 2010 and says the practical elements of his study have directly benefitted the Grey District.

“There was real value in getting this qualification and I believe Greymouth District is now better prepared for an emergency. I completely re--wrote all the operating procedures for Greymouth. While we covered areas I probably already knew about it, it was a very in--depth programme and added substance to my knowledge. I learnt a lot that can be directly applied to my job,” he says.

As part of his studies Allan was required to write a briefing paper for the mayor defining what an emergency was. He also looked closely at what the council’s legislative response to an emergency is, the extent of his own powers as CD Emergency Management Officer and Controller, and how emergency services and civil defence link together.

Students also study emergency responses throughout the world, something particularly important given the Christchurch earthquakes where Allan helped out as the relieving emergency operations centre manager.

“It seems incredible but since I began as a civil defence volunteer in the 1980s I have been involved in 12 disasters including the Christchurch earthquakes, Pike River mine explosion, the 1988 floods and tornado in 2005. As part of the diploma I did an assignment on Christchurch and wrote a paper on the response to Pike River.”

The level 6 Diploma in Applied Emergency Management was first introduced in 2010 for people already working in the field who wanted to develop their skills. TPP’s Head of the Emergency Management Department Dave Ritchie says while students come from all over New Zealand he is delighted the first graduate is from Greymouth.

“It is great to see that Allan Wilson has taken what he has learnt and is applying it positively in Greymouth. Given it was a new programme it is fair to say there were some teething problems so Allan’s feedback has been invaluable and he has now joined the programme’s advisory committee which means he can continue to help us improve the qualification,” he says.

“We are now incorporating a lot of learning from the Christchurch quakes in the programme. Clearly people were unprepared for the scale and complexity of the emergency and it highlighted some of the inter--agency failures. That’s where something like the coordinated incident management system (CIMS) can help, with its common command structure and terminology.”

TPP’s Emergency Management Department delivers over 150 courses throughout New Zealand each year to over 3,000 students. It has trained staff from Te Wananga o Aotearoa, Wellington Region Emergency Management Office, Coastguard NZ and Maritime New Zealand.

The Diploma in Applied Emergency Management programme (level 6) is delivered part time over a two, three or four year period with papers comprising short block courses and distance/online activities.


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