It is always hard to tell what long-term effects childhood experiences have. I was a Boy Scout, and an Eagle-scout in the end. The Boy Scout motto is “be prepared”, and I wonder how deeply that motto sunk into my brain.
It is not very surprising then that I got roped into Civil Defence, and now I find myself the manager of our local CDC. Yikes!
Two weeks ago they screened a locally produced made-for-TV movie “Aftershock.” This follows the events after a 8.2 earthquake hits the Wellington region (they centered the quake on the Wairarapa fault in cook straight, about 20 km from Wellington). Tam, Kerrey and I all watched it on her lovely large TV. (And she can pick up TV 3, which we can’t always do. I wonder if I would have a different impression of local TV offerings if we got more than two and a half channels.)
It contained no surprises for any of us, but it may have come as a bit of a shock for other viewers. No happy Hollywood ending here. Mass casualties abounded. The office workers trapped in their building? All but one died in the end. All those people trapped in their cars on the motorway after the quake? They didn’t do so well when the 6 meter tsunami came rolling in. The fires? Burned down most of old Wellington.
We liked that they covered some bits that are often missed in these scenarios- psychological casualties among the people working in the emergency management center, the fact that they had very few fire trucks, most of the roads were ruined, and there was no water to fight the fires anyway.
On Thursday they screened a “are you ready” program that took a family through a “simulated earthquake” to see how well they could survive for a few days after everything fell over.
Apparently it was a bit of a shock/wakeup call for many people. Good.
This past Saturday there was a Community Safety meeting in the Tawa town center. There were talks by the community constable, the local fire brigade, and civil defence. Kerry and I were both there to represent our various agencies. It was well attended by the public, which was nice to see. Afterwards, as everyone was leaving, one middle-aged woman collapsed in the doorway and started having seizures. The race was on! An emergency management person and the police officer made it there first, so seeing it was all under control the firemen just shrugged and walked away. I just played crowd control to get people out the back door. Glad to see that a room full of emergency responders was ready for action!
Now I need to get off my tail and get our local CDC more organized. I have not really picked up the ball properly since Chris (the former manager of the CDC) died. Grenada north is a very interesting/challenging area from a Civil Defence perspective. We cover a large area, extending 5 km up the Takapu valley. We have a very diverse mix of people and properties, with a small suburban area (Grenada North) with about 450 people, a Light Industrial park that has up to about 2000 people in it during working hours, and a group of rural/lifestyle properties with about 150-200 people. This makes planning much more exciting, as depending when something happens (day, night, weekend) we have a completely different population distribution. Plus the light industrial area has many food warehouses which would be vital after a major earthquake. Whee!