Campus-based emergency management hub for Wellington region

Press Release – Massey University

Emergency management specialists from the Joint Centre for Disaster Research at Massey University are inviting the Wellington region’s emergency planners to join forces in a purpose-built $15 million complex to improve preparedness for disasters. Friday, November 18, 2011

Embargoed till 12 midnight

Campus-based emergency management hub for Wellington region

Emergency management specialists from the Joint Centre for Disaster Research at Massey University are inviting the Wellington region’s emergency planners to join forces in a purpose-built $15 million complex to improve preparedness for disasters.

The University’s Vice-Chancellor Steve Maharey, says the proposal to establish the complex is part of a review of official responses to a major disaster in Wellington.

The emergency management hub would be hosted by the University, the leading provider of tertiary emergency management studies, in the new disaster-resilient building on its Wellington campus designed to the highest seismic standards.

It would provide an all-purpose location for academic staff, students and emergency managers associated with the council’s regional Emergency Management Office to gather for training programmes, and in the event of a disaster such as a tsunami or earthquake, to offer immediate incident response.

The 2000 square metre building, which would be funded via a commercial lease arrangement negotiated between the regional civil defence group and Massey, would also provide an alternative space for government departments providing essential services following a disaster.

Massey has been in talks with the regional council about the benefits of a hub and its importance to the wider region. The council has proposed putting it on the agenda for the next meeting of the region’s Civil Defence and Emergency Management Group Joint Committee at Upper Hutt on November 25.

This committee comprises Mayors from throughout the Wellington region, who have approved in principle a new integrated structure for how emergency response is coordinated in the region.

A report prepared by the regional council states there is a need to relocate the region’s civil defence headquarters as the existing building is likely to be damaged in a strong earthquake. New Wellington tsunami inundation hazard maps place both the current National Crisis Management Centre and the Wellington City Emergency Management Office (WEMO) at risk too.

Dr David Johnston, the director of the Joint Centre for Disaster Research, which is jointly run by Massey with GNS Science, says the University’s location in Mt Cook, Wellington made it “ideally placed” to manage a major emergency.

“It’s outside of a likely CBD red zone-type area, is on solid ground and is not prone to liquefaction, is away from the tsunami zones but close to a hospital.”

The building would front onto Wallace St, at the corner of Finlay Terrace, opposite the Mt Cook café.

It would occupy a significant ‘gateway’ site to the Wellington campus and its Wallace St frontage – a recognised arterial link between the city and the eastern suburbs.

Dr Johnston says the hub would also offer University students, studying courses such as the Graduate Diploma in Emergency Management, the opportunity to interact on a regular basis with emergency management practitioners dealing with the day-to-day issues involved in planning real life disaster scenarios.

“Massey University recognises the need for an emergency management hub as an extension of its existing Emergency Operations Centre within the Wellington campus.”

Long term, the hub could help attract international students to the campus and allow internships to be offered between the University and businesses involved in emergency response like engineers, in an arrangement Dr Johnston says would represent “ an integration of academia and industry.”

ENDS

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