Earthquake effort recognised

18:43, Dec 19 2012
Lisa Wade
Acknowledging sacrifice: Tasman Police Superintendent Richard Chambers, with award recipient Lisa Wade and her partner Robert Cockerell who is holding their daughter, Charlotte, 3.

A Picton woman who helped co-ordinate victim identification teams after the Christchurch earthquake last year felt "embarrassed" to receive an award for working from an office while others had to "pull out bodies".

Tasman district commander Superintendent Richard Chambers presented Lisa Wade with a special award, a dress distinction ribbon in Canterbury's red and black, at her office at Summit Real Estate in Picton on Tuesday for providing administration support to police officers in the 10 days following the earthquake on February 22 last year.

She was based at Burnham Military Camp where she collated missing-persons reports and checked them against confirmed deaths.

She also worked at Christchurch central police station where she helped co-ordinate police Disaster Victim Identification teams.

Ms Wade said she had the "easy job" of working from an office while emergency support teams searched through rubble to retrieve the dead.

"I was a bit embarrassed by the whole award because I had a logistical job.


"I didn't have the frontline job of pulling out the bodies."

A lasting memory for her was walking through the red zone where emergency teams were finding missing people among shattered buildings.

She does not have any family living in Christchurch.

"It was a real eye-opener, we were right in the thick of it in the CBD.

"My daughter was only 18 months old and it was my first time away from her, but we were so busy, I didn't have time to worry about it.

She worked as the Disaster Victim Identification commander's personal assistant and co-ordinated teams of DVI staff from overseas. Staff from Australia, Britain, Korea, Israel, and Thailand, among others, helped locate victims after the quake.

"It was controlled chaos. Everyone worked really hard.

"You just have a way to separate yourself from it - I don't have any lasting worries."

She worked as an administrator for the police in Wellington for about five years and the training meant she was able to quickly carry out her work after police staff contacted her asking for assistance following the quake. She arrived in Christchurch two days after it struck.

She said she was happy to go and would do it again if needed.

Superintendent Chambers acknowledged the sacrifice she and her family had made to help the people of Christchurch and her employer, Summit Real Estate in Picton manager Noel Cohen, for giving her time off.

The Marlborough Express