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Call For Resourcing And Empowerment Of First Responders In Revised CDEM Bill

Local communities are our first responders and must be fully resourced and enabled to manage emergencies for as long as is needed until outside help can arrive if required. (Photo supplied)

Following the recent announcement that the Civil Defence and Emergency Management (CDEM) Bill will not proceed in its current form Ruapehu District Council Chief Executive Clive Manley is calling for increased resourcing to empower local communities and improve local and regional resilience within New Zealand’s emergency management framework.

With over 30 years of experience as a Controller in civil defence and other emergency responses Mr Manley explained that local communities are our first responders and must be fully enabled to manage emergencies until outside help can arrive.

“The recent announcement that the CDEM bill will not proceed in its current form presents an opportunity to ensure the revised CDEM bill has a strong focus on empowering local communities,” he said. “Communities are the first level of response during emergencies, and it is vital they are funded and equipped to respond quickly, safely and effectively.”

He emphasised the necessity of a reliable alerting system as part of empowering local communities, stating, “A reliable national framework for an alerting and information system is essential. Communities need timely alerts to take necessary actions such as evacuations or avoiding hazards. Understanding hazards and setting alert thresholds are a crucial part of this.”

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Further, Manley highlighted the importance of pre-planning and preparedness, noting, “Communities need to have action plans in place that respond to known threats. Establishing community leaders who can communicate and manage resources is key. Identifying and supporting vulnerable members is also critical. As demonstrated during the COVID19 response local iwi often have the best understanding of these needs.”

He also stressed the effective use of local resources and volunteers, explaining, “We must utilise local resources and volunteers effectively. They need pre-established logistical support to be effective. Local welfare needs should be managed locally with external resource support when necessary.”

Reliable communication and situational awareness were also underscored by Manley, who said, “First responders require reliable situational awareness through communication with trusted local leaders. Effective emergency coordination requires robust two-way communication tools, such as Starlink, between emergency coordinators, local leaders, and communities.”

By developing reliable alert systems, ensuring communities are well-prepared with plans and leadership, utilising local resources and volunteers effectively, and establishing robust communication networks, we can build a more resilient and responsive emergency management framework for New Zealand.

The key to achieving this goal this is the resourcing and empowerment of local communities and I urge government to have this at the forefront of thinking in revising the CDEM Bill,” he concluded.

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