Family's safety made 'huge task' easier

Family's safety made rescue job easier

Last updated 14:36 24/11/2012
manson

SAFE AND SOUND: Stephen Manson with two of his daughters, Clare, 14, and Lauren, 11.

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Stephen Manson told his wife and four children to leave Christchurch when the February 2011 earthquake struck before he settled in for a 30-hour shift as the Red Cross' South Island incident management officer.

Fifteen-hour days followed as Manson liaised with the Christchurch City Council and emergency services, running the Red Cross' emergency operations centre.

"It was just a huge task. I know a lot of people who had their homes destroyed, one of my old work colleagues had been killed and all that sort of thing, but you had to carry on."

He had already experienced the challenge of working long days and trying to comfort a young family with the September earthquake.

"My wife was exhausted because she'd be dealing with [the children] during the day . . . so I would be up in the night rubbing my daughter's head, saying it will be all right, trying to do the good parent thing."

When the February earthquake hit he told his family to go to Kaikoura.

"For me that was the best thing because I knew I didn't actually have to worry about them, I knew there was food, water and support for them there and I could concentrate on working long hours."

Other Red Cross staff also put in long hours during the quake's aftermath. "One staff member, she lives out of town, she hadn't been out of town to see her house or her husband for five days."

Manson was not involved in the University of Otago study, but said he agreed with the researcher's comments about supporting frontline workers. "All of our guys did a fantastic job. They just gave it their all, really."

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- The Press

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