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Specialist volunteers train up for storm response

HBERT training

Over the weekend the Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management (HBCDEM) Group’s Rapid Response team of specialist volunteers were put through their paces in a storm response training course.

The course was facilitated by accredited training provider Fire Rescue and First Response and was a mix of practical sessions and theory work. Participants gained NZQA unit standards that will qualify them to undertake storm damage operations in a Civil Defence emergency.

HBCDEM Operational Readiness Team Leader Edaan Lennan says the volunteer Response Team is made up of people from a variety of backgrounds, who have the attributes required to function efficiently under stressful emergency conditions, and training that ensures professional teamwork.

“Civil Defence Emergency Management is delivered through a series of partnerships, whether that be with Iwi Māori, local councils, emergency services, government agencies or the wider community,” Edaan Lennan said.

“Volunteers are a vital component of this partnership. Having a team of trained, skilled volunteers drawn from the communities they serve improves the resilience of the whole community.

“The skills the team developed over the weekend mean that if we have an extreme weather event similar to the tornado that hit Levin last week, then the Response Team will be ready and trained to respond and conduct emergency repairs,” Edaan Lennan said.

HBCDEM’s training activities were supported by Kāinga Ora, who provided the use of an unoccupied property, which is pending deconstruction before being redeveloped into a new warm, dry, healthy home. This allowed the Rapid Response volunteers to practise carrying out temporary emergency repairs, including boarding up windows and covering a roof with a tarpaulin.

Kāinga Ora Community Engagement and Partnerships Manager Dale Grant said providing use of the unoccupied property was another way the crown entity works to build effective and collaborative partnerships in the community.

“We have a close relationship with HBCDEM and collaborate with them on various initiatives. Having experienced and well-trained volunteers ready to respond in an emergency benefits the whole community, so we were very happy to help the team,” Dale Grant said.

Over the past year, the Rapid Response volunteers have undergone a range of training courses, including advanced and psychological first aid; four-wheel drive emergency vehicle training; spontaneous volunteer coordination; aircraft safety, and flood response training, which involved practicing water safety on the Mohaka River.

The volunteers also take part in fortnightly training sessions at the Group Emergency Coordination Centre where they practice their skills and undertake training exercises.

Edaan Lennan said there are currently a number of opportunities to join the team in HBCDEM’s Rapid Response, Welfare Response and Communications Response groups.

“Becoming a specialist Civil Defence volunteer will allow you to gain new skills, develop relationships, and give back to the wider Hawke's Bay community during an emergency,” Edaan Lennan said.

If you want to learn more about volunteering for HBCDEM or complete an application form, visit: Helping Others | Hawke's Bay Emergency Management (


30 May 2022

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