‘Shakeout’ New Plymouth style

  • October 14, 2012
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Checking out the Council’s twitter feed during Shakeout at New Plymouth District Council.

What were you doing on the 26 September at 9.26am? Hopefully a bit of drop, cover and hold but if you work at New Plymouth District Council chances are you were doing a whole lot more. The Council took the opportunity to leverage off the national Shakeout drill and put the entire Council through its emergency management crisis response.

John Sutton, Manager for Quality Assurance at New Plymouth District Council, says every one of the 500 staff were involved at some level testing out emergency management and business continuity plans during the exercise.

The exercise involved broken roads and water mains, a person trapped in the Downtown Car Park building, evacuations of the water and wastewater treatment plants and even a media query about the safety of international teams in New Plymouth for the Cricket World Cup.

John says the Council has been working with Kestrel Group for some time now developing comprehensive emergency management and business continuity plans for the Council. “Taking this a step further and running an exercise fitted with our intention to test our newly developed emergency response plans. When it came time for the exercise Kestrel Group already had a thorough understanding of our plans and procedures, they wrote the exercise and observed how well we actually handled it.”

At the end of the exercise Kestrel led the verbal debrief from the observers and is now collating a formal report with recommendations for improvements, says John.

Kestrel Group Director Sandra Pedersen says the exercise went really well. “They got so much out of it and that’s because of the commitment from the top down for everyone to get involved.” John says the exercise provided an excellent team building opportunity with everyone very enthusiastic and willing to take part.

“It also raised awareness of the need to be prepared for emergencies and gave everyone greater confidence that the Council has a good set of plans to respond to emergency events.”

The next step is to pick up the recommendations from Kestrel Group and review their plans to improve them further, says John.

“The exercise tested our communications and our allocation of roles and responsibilities. These are two areas that worked well, but where we can do better.”

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