Visually impaired experiences of earthquakes highlight gaps in disaster preparedness video


Lynne Smith is visually impaired and has a guide dog. She shares her experiences pre and post quake, as part of a series on how people with disabilities are affected in disasters.

An opt-in register for vulnerable people is being suggested as a way to better support people with disabilities during emergencies.

Lynne Smith, who lives alone and relies on her guide dog Vegas to navigate her surroundings, sleeps with a transistor radio under her pillow.

That and ensuring she has a network in place, are among the ways she ensures she is prepared for any emergency.

Lynne Smith is visually impaired and has a guide dog.

Lynne Smith is visually impaired and has a guide dog.

"You just have to hope you have as much in place as you can."

Smith had learnt from the experiences she faced as a visually impaired resident in the Christchurch earthquakes six years ago, and welcomed the possibility of a register for people with disabilities, to ensure they were supported immediately after emergencies.

Dr Gretchen Good and Dr Suzanne Phibbs of Massey University's College of Health identified the need for a register through their study in which they documented the challenges that visually impaired Christchurch residents faced during the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes and aftershocks.

Lynne Smith's guide dog, Vegas is her "transport".

Lynne Smith's guide dog, Vegas is her "transport".

The study, "Disorientated and Immobile: The Experience of People with Visual Impairments During and After the Christchurch, New Zealand 2010 and 2011 Earthquakes", was published in the Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness

Good and Phibbs conducted 12 face-to-face interviews after the September 2010 quake, but prior to the 2011 February quake.

"Our research participants and one District Council have suggested that a registry of disabled persons is needed to ensure that assistance is made available to those who need it in an emergency, such as those who are vision impaired and live alone, those who rely on electricity for medical reasons, those who are hearing impaired and cannot access news and those who are mobility impaired and could not move in an emergency," Good said.

Organisations including the Blind Foundation and CCS Disability Action Group operated their own registers and following the 2010 and 2011 Canterbury earthquakes, staff were able to check in on their client bases.

Ad Feedback

CCS Disability Action accessibility adviser BJ Clark said the organisation's own register identified those who required "high need" support. They were people who could not look after themselves in the event of an emergency.

Clark said the idea to have a "centralised" register had been raised, with the obvious holder being Civil Defence.

"But the reality is in the case of an emergency, as we found out in the Christchurch earthquake, Civil Defence primarily are involved in upper level structures of support. They're busy setting up emergency response stations ... so there would be a number of days before they could look to assist on an individual basis."

"Given our set up at CCS, it's our responsibility to ensure the safety of those people we support, so we take that on as part of our emergency response plan."

Blind Foundation practice advisor of rehabilitation instructors Carina Duke said if Civil Defence were to hold such a register, where people had a choice to opt in for privacy reasons, support could get to those who needed it.

The organisation had struggled to reach certain members after the Canterbury quakes.

"We had people that were in the red zone areas where we weren't able to get in to visit them because we did make an effort to visit them... so we could ensure they had access to support and food etc. From our perspective, if people had been on a register, Civil Defence would have had access to them and been able to prioritise them.

There is a lot of merit in this."

New Zealand Foundation for Conductive Education national coordinator Sally Thomas said she would jump at the chance to opt on to a register, to ensure her son received the support he needed.

Her 29 year-old son, Alex who has cerebral palsy, would soon move into an independent living situation. She would be informing the nearest police station that he was living nearby.

"I think it is a great idea and would provide a lot of peace of mind for people that may not have a lot of natural support or family supports, who would need assistance in an emergency.

I'm sure that it would help Police, Red Cross and people like that to know where these people are located."



 - Stuff


Ad Feedback
special offers

Rental homes risky for kids

Research from Growing Up in New Zealand's Now We Are Four report showed private rentals had significantly fewer home ...

Children living in rentals are exposed to greater safety risks than those whose families own a home, study shows.

Murder in a tight-knit town video

Natanya Campbell and her mum Wendy Campbell Rodgers were killed when they were making a property inspection in Northland.

It was meant to be a routine work visit, but soon after a flurry of gunshots rang out and two women were left dead.

Family wants victims' bodies home video

The victims of Northland's double fatal shooting were mother and daughter Wendy and Natanya Campbell.

Whanau of two women shot dead in Northland "wearing the clothes of mourning" while they wait for their bodies to be returned.

'Beautiful women' gunned down video

Natanya Campbell and her mum Wendy Campbell Rodgers were killed when they were carrying out a property inspection in ...

Jeff Pipe escaped with a bullet wound in his back and a hole in his car windscreen while a mother and daughter were shot dead when they turned up for a property inspection.


The disappearing price of premium

2032016 News Photo: Marion van Dijk/Fairfax NZ

Petrol price sign at BP2go Haven Road.

Petrol stations don't show premium fuel prices anymore and it allows gouging, AA says.

Street closed by slip

The road will be closed overnight between the Devon St/Essex St intersection, and the intersection of Landcross St and ...

A section of street in Aro Valley has been cordoned off and a house evacuated after a slip has come down.

Wind hits Wellington flights

Wellington's wind is notorious for giving passengers landing in the city a bumpy landing. (File photo)

Flights have been disrupted in the capital, and some have been diverted.

Winter's bite is back video

Cold Antarctic air is behind the front bringing snow to Tekapo and other parts of the South Island.

Wellington in the firing line with gale-force southerlies on the way.


The purrfect crime

A cheeky cat burglar has been caught in Blenheim

A furry, late night prowler stealing clothes from an unsuspecting resident has been caught on tape.

Project seeks land

The Hurunui River in North Canterbury.

"It gives them a big baseball bat and what have I got?" asks one worried farmer.

Flooded residents 'angry'

Southshore Residents Association chairman Bill Simpson says what happened in Southshore during last weekend's flooding ...

Nearly 350 Southshore residents express "disappointment at the late and inadequate response" to flood risk in their suburb.

Rare kotuku shot

An X-ray shows pellets lodged in the kotuku's body.

There are only 100 left but someone has shot a kotuku. Now the hunt is on for the perpetrator.


Que back being a typical Kiwi kid

Que Langdon is settling back into normal activities after sailing with her father to Australia from Kawhia.

After spending 27 days sailing to Oz with her father, life is back to normal for Que Langdon.

Migrants grow dope

Professionally installed heat lamps and hydroponic equipment were set up in various rooms, including bedrooms, of the ...

Illegal immigrant ring caught growing commercial amounts of cannabis in three rental houses.

Cops swoop on school

Police look for evidence at the back gate of Knighton Normal School.

Officers patrolling grounds after incident at primary school in Hamilton East.

Waikato support for plastic bag levy

90 per cent of mayors support a compulsory levy on plastic bags.

Plastic bag levy will see the cost of groceries go up.


Firewood supplies running out

A roaring fire maybe a thing of the past unless you've stocked up as supplies of firewood  run out in Taranaki with ...

Stock up in summer to avoid being left out in the cold.

A 'hybrid event' flood video

Traffic is reduced to one lane just south of Inglewood.

The amount of rain to fall "far exceeded" standards for severe heavy rain warnings.

Drugs and cash seized

Methamphetamine and cash were recovered when police raided four houses in North Taranaki on Thursday morning. (file photo)

Methamphetamine, cash and vehicles seized in a series of raids in Taranaki this morning.

Woman clung to moving car

Members of the public witnessed one woman's horror as her partner tried to push her out of a moving car on a state ...

Her partner tried to push her out as they drove on the highway. When they stopped, she fled and hid under a truck.


A garden of thoughts

Carly Thomas and her eldest daughter Ava Thomas wander through their large garden.

Reporter Carly Thomas gets philosophical about her crazy garden.

Game could move

Access to upper levels of the Central Energy Trust Arena grandstand has been stopped while fire safety work is carried out.

Fire risk closes upper levels of Central Energy Trust Arena grandstand.

Eating spot hits hard times

Bethany's restaurant, on The Square, has fallen into liquidation.

The reputable restaurant was born out of love and tragedy.

Council's black-list folly

David Clapperton introduced an abhorrent email-interception practice at Horowhenua District Council.

OPINION: Horowhenua boss' email-interception practice is abhorrent.


Log truck overturns

A logging truck overturned at Appleby near Nelson.

Logging truck crash closes road near Nelson.

Battle in the skies

Passengers disembark the first Jetstar flight from Wellington to Nelson. (File photo)

Regional airline boss says "it's a race to the bottom, and we're caught up in it".

Chocolate cake heaven

Phil Lash of Chocolate Velvet.

Chocolate Velvet specialises in happiness; glorious cake happiness.

Crime spree arrest

One man has been arrested as police continue to search for two others following a number of crimes across Nelson last ...

Police have made an arrest in relation to several incidents last weekend.


Cloud of fatal crash still hangs

Lara Glover, 16, died in the car crash on February 19.

Eight teenagers were in the car, but Jayne Glover says the whole region felt the crash that killed her daughter.

Nurses to move to hub

The district nurses will have a similar amount of storage space at the health hub, the review panel says.

Where they need more staff, new technology and better communication, review finds.

No flying fish yet for Blenheim

The runway at Marlborough Airport, which NZ King Salmon wants to see extended. (File photo)

Salmon farmed in the Marlborough Sounds can't be flown out of the region because the local runway's too short.

Ice skating, minus the cold

One of Ice Skate Tour's artificial ice rinks will be set up in central Blenheim for four days in December.

It looks like ice, skates like ice, but a rink bound for Blenheim is definitely not ice.

South Canterbury

Rugby player jailed

Kolinio Yabia Tamanitoakula was jailed for three years, four months and two weeks.

His distressed victim was covered in mud when she ran in front of a car to get help.

Change possible - Falloon

National Party candidate Andrew Falloon met ECan representatives on Thursday, following heated public debate about the ...

Retrofitting plan still on the table, National Party candidate suggests.

Roads reopen, rain continues video

Contractors clear snow from the road at Tekapo on Thursday morning.

Roads to Tekapo reopen as schools send  students home early to avoid flooding.

Boy seriously injured in Timaru

A 12-year-old Westmount School - South Campus Timaru pupil was taken to Timaru Hospital on Thursday with serious ...

Twelve-year-old taken to Timaru Hospital with serious injuries following incident in CBD.


Invercargill i-Site to trial pilot to lure migrants

Venture Southland general manager of tourism, events and community Bobbi Brown and Invercargill i-Site supervisor ...

The Invercargill i-Site has been selected by the Ministry of Business, Information and Employment to run a pilot looking to entice visitors to the region to migrate.

The 9-day garage sale

A vinyl record collection does not reflect the tastes of the current owner, Smith says.

Riversdale hoarder's "rationalisation" leads to nine-day garage sale.

Fishermen demand answers

CRA8 Lobster Industry Association chief executive Malcolm Lawson said consultation on the regulation changes have been ...

Southern fishermen want Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy to front up over concerns regarding new commercial fishing regulations.

Tougher biosecurity wanted

Ministry for Primary Industries Aquaculture analyst Finn Sumner speaks to the audience at an Invercargill public meeting ...

Southlanders have made it known to MPI staff they want to see tougher biosecurity standards for the marine aquaculture industry.

Ad Feedback