Emergency radios for hospitals, surgeries

Manawatu is ready for the worst-case scenario with the installation of an emergency radio network in hospitals and health centres in the region.

MidCentral District Health Board has expanded its emergency radio system after lessons learned from the Canterbury earthquake in February 2011. In that disaster, both landline and mobile phone services were disrupted for several hours, meaning information on health services was difficult to find.

A radio telephone system at community centres has now been pushed out to general practices.

DHB Regional Primary Health emergency planner Barry Simpson said he was happy to have the new equipment in place, as part of the DHB's primary health disaster preparation.

"It is very important to learn from the lessons of previous natural disasters. The Canterbury earthquake showed that communication networks can be very vulnerable to disruption, and we have installed these new radios to provide a way for emergency communication to continue, even in the worst-case scenario."

The DHB and Central Primary Health Organisation could now communicate directly with practices in the event of an emergency or during power and normal communication outages.

The system, installed by local company Over and Out, also had solar power as a backup.

The new radio telephones have been installed in several Palmerston North practices, including Massey Medical Centre, Central PHO and the MidCentral DHB emergency operating centre, as well as in Otaki, Horowhenua, Foxton, Pahiatua, Dannevirke and Feilding.

Manawatu Standard