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Testing the region’s COVID preparedness

CDEM exercise 1

Testing the preparedness of public service organisations for a major COVID outbreak in the region was the purpose of a multi-agency tabletop exercise held last week.
The exercise was facilitated by Napier City Council, Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) and Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management (HBCDEM) and saw 30 participants from a wide range of Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti agencies come together at the HBCDEM Group Emergency Coordination Centre in Hastings.
Agencies represented included Police, Corrections, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Social Development (MSD), FENZ, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), Ministry of Education, Te Puni Kokiri, Oranga Tamariki, Kāinga Ora and our local councils. 
Representatives were split into three groups and provided video scenarios from regional leaders, including Hawke’s Bay DHB Chief Executive Keriana Brooking, covering the early stages of a major outbreak and a prolonged change in 'traffic light' settings, through to critical supply chain issues and the social and economic impacts on the region.
They spent the morning brainstorming their approach to the outbreak including how they would work together and share information to delegate responsibilities and ensure economic and social challenges are addressed.
Napier City Council Chief Executive Steph Rotarangi said the exercise was designed to build capability and resilience while allowing regional agencies to gain a greater understanding of each other’s roles and responsibilities.
“While our regional agencies are already well connected, this type of public health emergency is very difficult to fully prepare for, so an open dialogue between agencies is essential and the best way for us to continue learning and preparing as a region,” Steph Rotarangi said.
HBCDEM Group Controller Ian Macdonald said that in addition to allowing partner agencies to all work together, the exercise also provided people whose normal day jobs aren't in emergency management to get a feel for what a real life response involves.
“This was an important opportunity to test and enhance our people, systems and procedures and ensure their readiness and capacity to respond to an outbreak in the region,” Ian Macdonald said.
FENZ Hawke’s Bay District Manager Ken Cooper said this was an example of partner agencies exploring innovative ways to keep Hawke’s Bay communities safe.
“Exercises like this are invaluable in that they provide agencies with the ability to discuss key issues, ask questions and challenge assumptions using scenarios loosely based on real life events,” Ken Cooper said.  
Eastern Police District Commander Superintendent Jeanette Park said it was an awesome opportunity to get together with other public service agencies and “work through exactly how we would connect and effectively communicate and support our communities in a crisis.”
“Exercises like this are an excellent opportunity to ensure our teams are ‘match fit’ and always looking ahead,” Jeanette Park said.
The session was finished off with a snap ‘media conference’ run by the communications staff from HBCDEM, Napier City Council and Police.

15 December 2021

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