Volunteers Prepare to Rescue Wellington

30 October 2009

Who said civil defence was boring? Come along to the waterfront next Saturday (7 November) at 1.20pm to watch volunteer firefighters practise for a civil emergency in Wellington. They will rappel out of an airborne helicopter while volunteer rescuers simulate a second-storey rescue.

It's all part of Exercise Phoenix, organised by Wellington City Council's Emergency Management Office, testing how well our volunteer civil defence network would cope with a large-scale disaster like an earthquake or flood.

The Council's Emergency Preparedness Manager, Fred Mecoy, says about 80 of the city's civil defence volunteers will be involved in the exercise.

"We have a number of volunteer civil defence centres set up in suburbs around Wellington and eight of these centres will be involved in the exercise. It's a great way to see what's working well for us and where we can improve before we need to respond to a real emergency."

The Council's Social Portfolio Leader, Councillor Ngaire Best, says in the event of an emergency, these volunteers will be the eyes and ears of the community, informing the Council's Emergency Management Office of the local situation and passing critical information back to the community.

"Volunteers are a vital part of our emergency response - and we're always looking for more. If you're over 16 and want to make a difference in your community, we'd love to hear from you."

The civil defence volunteer exercise will run in the morning and the Mayor will speak to the volunteers over lunch. The volunteer firefighters' helicopter exercise will run from 1.20pm to 2.00pm on the lawn adjacent to the City to Sea Bridge on the waterfront (in front of St John's Bar and behind the rowing club) and Jack Illot Green. The public and media are invited to attend. Council staff will be on hand to talk to anyone interested in volunteering to work in civil defence, rural fire fighting or rescue.

Exercise Phoenix is a regional emergency preparedness exercise but only Wellington City Council volunteers are involved in this part of the exercise.