Emergency and service management in New Zealand: Moving on from the 2011 Christchurch earthquakes
By invitation, Dr Raj Prasanna who is an expert in technology and systems for supporting emergency management, gave a well-attended seminar about the Canterbury Earthquakes and emergency and service management in New Zealand on the 3rd of September. This seminar attracted many audiences from different departments cross the campus.
Dr Raj Prasanna studied for a PhD here at the School of Business and Economics, Loughborough University. His excellent research work was introduced on the website of Graduate School’s news during his study in the school. Immediately after graduatation, he was employed by the Joint Centre for Disaster Research, one of the leading research and academic institutes in disaster management, with collaborations between New Zealand’s leading crown research institute GNS Science and Massey University.
The 2011 Christchurch earthquake was a powerful natural event that severely damaged the second largest city in New Zealand. As the result, there were 185 people killed, 7500 injured and 60,000 people displaced. Two large 1980s buildings, including the six-storey Canterbury Television Building, collapsed in the earthquake. This earthquake was the second-deadliest natural disaster recorded in New Zealand.
The Christchurch earthquakes from 2011 have remained in memory as an unforgettable event. In this seminar, Dr Prasanna looked at the geography and natural disaster risk profile of New Zealand followed by a discussion on the NZ’s emergency and service management hierarchies. The EM strategy, model and practice in New Zealand were also discussed.
The emergency management life cycle and model in different countries have slightly different descriptions in names. In New Zealand, it consists of four phases: Risk reduction, Readiness, Response and Recovery (the 4Rs); in the USA and the UK it is called Mitigation, Preparedness, Response and Recovery; and in Australia, Prevention, Preparation, Response and Recovery. The emergency response system in New Zealand is called Coordinated Incident Management System (CIMS) which is different structurally and in content from Incident Command System (NIMS-ICS) in the USA, Gold-Silver-Bronze in the UK and Australian Inter-agency Incident Management System ((AIIMS)
Raj showed many photos about the Sep 2010 and the Feb 2011 Canterbury Earthquakes and discussed their sequence, the impact and lessons learnt in relation to managing such large-scale catastrophic events.
The lack of coordination in that post-September situation with the recovery was discussed, and a modified recovery model was needed in its place. The February 2011 earthquake provided an opportunity to disband the recovery commission that was put in innovatively in the preceding months and go back to something more like the standard recovery management model that had been planned for previously.
So what we now have in Canterbury for recovery is a government department based in the region called Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA). It has taken over many of the recovery functions of the local city council. The chief executive officer directly reports to a minister and then reports to Cabinet. There is something more akin to the standard recovery model that has been adapted to meet the needs of the recovery processes in Canterbury today.
Finally, Dr Prasanna explained the ‘Readiness and Resilience’ efforts since the 2011 earthquakes and the use of technology in managing disasters and emergencies in New Zealand.