It was a fun-filled week for emergency response training.
Last Monday (our usual night) it was raining, so we decided to run a radio and maps exercise. Two people per car (5 cars total) each with a radio and a map. We would send them coordinates, which they would have to find and get to using the map. Once there, they would radio back their location (street corner) and we would send the next coordinates.
As we went along, the rain intensity started to increase. Then a bit more. Then it was hosing down. Some of the teams out in their cars started reported roads blocked due to flooding, or having to stop and assist other people.
So we turned the evening into a real-life recon. We re-tasked the teams to check stream levels, bridge clearances, and flooding in different parts of the city. Back and base we were recording this all on a map, and forwarding the relevant info on to the fire service. We were also prepping to head out with pumps if required.
Then the rain started to slow, and the flooding abated, and it became clear that the fire service could handle the remaining issues.
Wednesday was Waitangi day. It was time for us to work in the “public education” arena. We set up in Te Raupuraha park where they were holding the “festival of the elements” and work on educating the public about what they need to do in terms of their household preparedness. That and let them know about the team and what we do.
Then shortly about 2:30 PM team member cell phones started to go off- there had just been a shallow magnitude 8 quake east of the Solomon Islands. The sort of quake that can generate a serious tsunami. For an hour we waited to hear if a Tsunami risk had been declared. When the alert came through, it was time to pack up *fast* and get back to base. The Coast Guard, who had the display next to ours, were similarly speedy in their pack-up. (The public seemed blissfully unaware of our hastened departure, and of the conversations as we packed along the lines of ‘get that boat out to sea’ and ‘we have to move this equipment to high ground.’)
We were in the process of fitting the Tsunami alert/evacuation sirens to the tops of my ute so I could start driving around the beachfront communities when the alert was called off.
So, if good things come in threes, What’s going to happen at training tonight? We went from local flooding to Tsunami thus far. Is step three going to be an asteroid impact or something? I guess we’ll find out in twelve hours or so.