Region Moves on Lessons from Christchurch

Press Release – Kapiti Coast District Council

The Wellington Region has taken another step in preparing itself for a comprehensive civil defence response, should we suffer a major disaster similar to or worse than the Christchurch quakes.October 21, 2011

Region Moves on Lessons from Christchurch

The Wellington Region has taken another step in preparing itself for a comprehensive civil defence response, should we suffer a major disaster similar to or worse than the Christchurch quakes.

Bruce Pepperell has been appointed Regional Manager Wellington CDEM (Civil Defence Emergency Management), Group Controller, a role specially created to bring together all the personnel and expertise from the region’s nine councils to deliver emergency services in an efficient and co-ordinated manner.

The appointment follows on from a Capability Assessment Report prepared by the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management as a result of the Christchurch experiences.

Mr Pepperell – who left the Navy this year after a 36-year career in logistics – said his role initially would be to both plan ahead and to educate, in order to enhance the region’s readiness.

“Civil defence is a bit like insurance — you are only interested in it when something happens and you need it, and by then it’s often too late. But the lessons from Christchurch are something we have to learn from.”

He says that education is vitally important in this planning. “People have to be aware of the risks we face and how we need to prepare. My goal is to make sure the Wellington region has the systems in place to respond whenever we have an emergency, be it earthquake, tsunami, flooding or anything else.

“I am looking forward to meeting and working with the region’s current emergency management professionals, building on the good work they have undertaken to date.”

Mr Pepperell’s first task will be to carry out a comprehensive review of the existing CDEM arrangements in the region. The review will also consider how rural fire responsibilities are managed.

He will then establish a strategic management structure including functions and roles within his new team, capable of delivering on the vital “4 R’s” of reduction, response, readiness and recovery. This will include operating and maintaining physical resources (such as bases, people, vehicles and equipment) to achieve maximum response effectiveness, and creating robust information systems.

Key targets include ensuring businesses can continue to operate in time of emergency, and that social, welfare and health services can still be delivered.

Mr Pepperell will report to the Chair of the Wellington Region Coordinating Executive Group, consisting of Chief Executives of the nine councils, and representatives from NZ Fire Service, NZ Police and Capital & Coast District Health Board.

Kāpiti Coast Mayor Jenny Rowan, who is Chair of the region’s Civil Defence and Emergency Management (CDEM) Group Joint Committee, said the new appointment and integrated structure reflected a new approach to civil defence emergency preparedness.

“This is a challenging role. Mr Pepperell is very special person with outstanding leadership skills, who can put a workable plan in place for the Wellington Region.

“When The Big One hits the Region, we believe the moves we’re making today will position us better to manage and recover from that event in a more effective manner,” Mayor Rowan said.

ENDS

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