Usar team impresses mentors

KATHRYN KING
Last updated 11:00 30/08/2014
usar
MURRAY WILSON/FAIRFAX NZ
EASY DOES IT: Ringo Harwood lowers a ‘‘patient’’ to the ground during a mock rescue from the 6th floor of the Palmerston North City Council building.

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The Urban Search and Rescue Team has been given the thumbs up from its Australian mentors.

Earlier this week, New Zealand's Urban Search and Rescue Team undertook a three-day training exercise, simulating a response to a large-scale earthquake.

In the scenario, the earthquake killed more than 1000 people and left many more injured and trapped, and had teams deploying to Palmerston North from Auckland, as if it were an overseas disaster.

It was the first time the whole team had been brought together to practise an international deployment, and acted as a rehearsal for assessment by the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group, a network under the United Nations' umbrella.

Usar national manager Gavin Travers said the team was being assessed by mentors from Queensland urban search and rescue, who were to make a recommendation about their state of readiness to the United Nations.

They had now made that recommendation, and the team was looking toward undertaking the classification exercise, much the same as that carried out this week, in March next year.

"From the mentors' point of view, it was a success, and if that was a real classification, it's their opinion we would have passed," Travers said.

"We want to make sure we don't become complacent with that comment, because there are some areas that need work."

Their biggest area for improvement was surrounding their reception and departure centre, which is set up in the airport of the host country.

For now, all the teams were resting, but in a few weeks there would be a debrief with teams and management.

They would likely run though some aspects of the exercise again independently, but they would not undertake another full deployment until the classification exercise.

The teams felt "quite motivated" after the exercise, and morale had lifted, Travers said.

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- Manawatu Standard

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