USAR team get new toolkit

American collegues leave top-of-the-range gear

Last updated 05:00 08/10/2011
NEW KIT: USAR national management team member Steve Barclay with the container-load of gear donated to Christchurch.

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The Christchurch Urban Search and Rescue team want to make the most of a going-away gift.

When the United States USAR team left Christchurch following their efforts after the February 22 earthquake, they left more than goodwill.

The Americans left an entire container of top-of-the-range urban search and rescue equipment, including high-tech cameras, concrete saws, generators, tents and listening devices.

"They handed over all the equipment to the most effective task team, which is us, and in return I gave them a Fire Service T-shirt," said USAR task force leader Paul Burns, who showed The Press the equipment.

"The search equipment itself is some of the best in the world. It's six months to a year old. One piece of equipment, the acoustic gear, is worth $30,000. We now have four cases of rescue equipment in the country. Two in Christchurch, one in Auckland and one in Palmerston North."

The equipment would remain in Christchurch for two years, unless it was needed for an emergency elsewhere.

The New Zealand USAR team is seeking United Nations accreditation so they can work abroad in case of an international emergency.

Steve Barclay, part of the Fire Service national management team, said the equipment was an upgraded model of what the Kiwi teams used.

"It's exactly the gear we needed. It's as if someone gave us $600,000 and said: `Buy a new cache'."

The extra equipment is welcome but the Christchurch USAR headquarters on Ferry Rd faces an uncertain future. The building itself is green-stickered but it remains inside the orange zone where further land assessment is needed.

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- The Press


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