Primed, ready for emergency events

Vulnerable people in the community need care regardless of what is going on around them

Vulnerable people in the community need care regardless of what is going on around them

READY AT TE WIREMU: Te Wiremu manager Lynette Stankovich and clinical care manager Terry Rickard check out their emergency kit. Elderly care provider Te Wiremu House is one place that has been proactive with its emergency planning. Picture supplied

When faced with an emergency situation, people working in health cannot just shut up shop and go home till things return to normal. Vulnerable people in the community need care regardless of what is going on around them, says Hauora Tairawhiti emergency response coordinator Steve Hooper.

This was borne out last year when Gisborne found itself without power for three days, he says.

“We have a generator at Gisborne Hospital that keeps things ticking over for acute patients."

However, as the district health board, Hauora Tairawhiti has a responsibility to respond to the health needs of all Tairawhiti people in an emergency, not just those in hospital.

“That means we need to work with rest homes, general practices and pharmacies, so they can keep providing essential care. It also means that people who need to use lifesaving equipment in their homes — like dialysis, oxygen or feeding machines — can continue to do so.

“We knew the power outage was going to last longer than 24 hours, so we made sure we had an incident management centre set up to coordinate our response to the situation. We linked closely with Civil Defence and made sure we had information flowing. We brought people together who were trained to manage emergency situations and who had the authority to make decisions about what was needed.

“For example, Hauora Tairawhiti’s Tangata Rite Building in Peel Street does not have a generator. Staff normally based there, who were not assisting people in the community, were brought down to the hospital to help with the response. This worked really well as many staff based there have good links with people and organisations in the community.

“We will do the same for future emergency events, particularly floods, earthquakes and tsunami. Contacting vulnerable people in the community who were under our care was a priority.

“For example, people on home dialysis were bought into the dialysis unit for treatment and some who relied on electric beds or oxygen needed to be brought into hospital. Some went to Kiri Te Kanawa rest home, which has its own generator. The power outage has been a catalyst to get more people in health thinking about what they will do in an emergency.

“Many Hauora Tairawhiti departments have now reviewed their business continuity and emergency response plans. All general practices and rest homes must have an emergency plan and I have been working with them to get these completed or updated,” says Mrs Hooper.

“While it is not viable for all to have a back-up generator; having a contract with a local generator provider and getting the business wired to be able to use it easily and effectively is a good alternative.”

Te Wiremu House has been proactive its emergency planning.

“We are wired to plug an emergency generator into our mains,” says manager Lynette Stankovich. “We also have complete emergency kits in each area of the rest home. They get brought out at staff and evacuation training so staff know where they are and what is in them.”

When faced with an emergency situation, people working in health cannot just shut up shop and go home till things return to normal. Vulnerable people in the community need care regardless of what is going on around them, says Hauora Tairawhiti emergency response coordinator Steve Hooper.

This was borne out last year when Gisborne found itself without power for three days, he says.

“We have a generator at Gisborne Hospital that keeps things ticking over for acute patients."

However, as the district health board, Hauora Tairawhiti has a responsibility to respond to the health needs of all Tairawhiti people in an emergency, not just those in hospital.

“That means we need to work with rest homes, general practices and pharmacies, so they can keep providing essential care. It also means that people who need to use lifesaving equipment in their homes — like dialysis, oxygen or feeding machines — can continue to do so.

“We knew the power outage was going to last longer than 24 hours, so we made sure we had an incident management centre set up to coordinate our response to the situation. We linked closely with Civil Defence and made sure we had information flowing. We brought people together who were trained to manage emergency situations and who had the authority to make decisions about what was needed.

“For example, Hauora Tairawhiti’s Tangata Rite Building in Peel Street does not have a generator. Staff normally based there, who were not assisting people in the community, were brought down to the hospital to help with the response. This worked really well as many staff based there have good links with people and organisations in the community.

“We will do the same for future emergency events, particularly floods, earthquakes and tsunami. Contacting vulnerable people in the community who were under our care was a priority.

“For example, people on home dialysis were bought into the dialysis unit for treatment and some who relied on electric beds or oxygen needed to be brought into hospital. Some went to Kiri Te Kanawa rest home, which has its own generator. The power outage has been a catalyst to get more people in health thinking about what they will do in an emergency.

“Many Hauora Tairawhiti departments have now reviewed their business continuity and emergency response plans. All general practices and rest homes must have an emergency plan and I have been working with them to get these completed or updated,” says Mrs Hooper.

“While it is not viable for all to have a back-up generator; having a contract with a local generator provider and getting the business wired to be able to use it easily and effectively is a good alternative.”

Te Wiremu House has been proactive its emergency planning.

“We are wired to plug an emergency generator into our mains,” says manager Lynette Stankovich. “We also have complete emergency kits in each area of the rest home. They get brought out at staff and evacuation training so staff know where they are and what is in them.”

Civil Defence Get Ready Week activities in Gisborne this week will include DIY workshops for children this weekend. “Stay Safe, Stay Informed” is the theme of the week.

The Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management is raising awareness on how to prepare for emergencies. Free D.I.Y. workshops aimed at children will be run at the Gisborne Bunnings store tomorrow and Sunday from 12.30pm.

“The children will have the opportunity to make a take-home emergency board and wrist band that includes vital information to 'grab and go' in the case of an emergency,” said the MCDEM director Sarah Stuart-Black. “Get Ready Week is an ideal opportunity for families to start the conversation about how to be better prepared for emergencies.”

As well as the free workshops, Bunnings will also have an emergency preparedness information stand on display, with helpful resources available to take home.

“Being prepared includes knowing which radio stations to listen to, which website and social media to follow and knowing your neighbours.”

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