Three years on and where to next? The Canterbury earthquake experience, an emergency planner’s perspective

It is now three years since the first of the Canterbury earthquakes, yet the process for recovery continues.  We need to review where we are now, and where we want to be, and how we can achieve this.  The situation has much potential, while representing a unique and challenging environment.  Issues still to be dealt with include on-going repairs, infrastructure concerns and the development and building that is part of the relocation of the tertiary level hospital that serves the Canterbury and West Coast population.

Many of the services provided across the South Island originate from the Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB), and the need to re-establish, re-model and expand such services is apparent.  One of the CDHB guiding documents is a vision statement, which looks towards achievements to be implemented by 2020.  In the aftermath of the natural disaster, the 2020 vision needed to be accelerated, and introduced in large part by 2012, following major disruption to the health system.

The community and environment was already experiencing change including increasing demand and an ageing population, now exacerbated by the need for interim facilities while developing new approaches.  Workload issues such as repatriation of hospital wards from alternate sites, frustrations for staff trying to come into work while facing continuing road works, diversions and unexpected detours with limited car parking continue.

There are issues emerging in relation to mental health and wellbeing, with many of these only now becoming apparent.  Staff who have experienced the earthquakes often continue to deal with the effects of this and staff who are new to the area at times struggle to become part of a team that has experienced a unifying and intense series of events.

Mr Bruce Hall, Emergency Planner, Canterbury District Health Board aims to explore a vision for the future in Canterbury in his presentation at the Australian and New Zealand Disaster & Emergency Management Conference 2014, by looking at the possibilities as well as the challenges and focussing on the steps necessary to reach these outcomes.

To find out more about the conference or to register for the Australian and New Zealand Disaster & Emergency Management Conference, visit the website:  http://anzdmc.com.au

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