Emergency response drill in Wellington

Last updated 05:00 19/11/2012

EMERGENCY DRILL: 'Victim' Jonathan Cook is attended to by Tania Jones from the Nelson/Tasman Urban Search team.

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If the sight of people smashing down doors and scrambling around in vacant apartments screams 'disaster' - it's meant to - but there's no cause for alarm.

About 150 volunteers took part in a training exercise for emergency response teams at the due-for-demolition Berkeley Dallard council-owned apartments in Wellington's Nairn St yesterday.

The volunteers, many of whom were deployed to the February Christchurch earthquake and Queensland floods rescue and response efforts, were being hosted by the Wellington City Emergency Response Team for the exercise.

They included teams from Upper Hutt, Lower Hutt, Victoria University, Porirua and Nelson.

Drills at the inner city block included search and rescue of casualties, rope access rescues, reconnaissance and mapping, rescue in a smoke-logged building and forced entry.

With the help of power tools and axes the teams were also training for storm and flood response, swift water rescue and high-angle rescue.

Behind the make-believe is a serious business: Live ''casualties'' are adorned with realistic mock injuries - known in the emergency rescue game as 'moulage.'

Other responders are issued with scenario cards with instructions for action such as telling them to collapse after being hit by a rock or being unable to communicate after becoming trapped.

The Wellington City team has 34 fully trained volunteers and spokeswoman Nicola Johns said the drill was a crucial way to keep all the regional teams connected.

''Not only is it awesome for our skills but it's important for us to network - it makes us more prepared because we know what gear we have, what resources we have and each person's skill level.''

It is the first time the response teams have worked together since the Christchurch earthquake and the exercise is seen as a practice run for Wellington to host a similar nationwide event pencilled in for later this year.

Contact Matt Stewart
Email: matt.stewart@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @smatape

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- The Dominion Post


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