Plug-in civil defence devices being piloted

The emergency management committee Martin Rodley, Terry Walker, Robyn Sinclair, Sally Christie and civil defence controller Garry Towler. Supplied image.

A pilot project involving a plug-in device to alert people about civil defence emergencies will be trialled in 300 homes around Coromandel.

The indoor alerting devices are plugged into an electrical socket in a home where cell-phone coverage is sketchy, so that residents will be able to receive civil defence alerts.

The trials will be over a period of seven days, with the devices being tested up to four times, to see if these residents are successfully receiving emergency alerts.

Surveys show that the national Emergency Mobile Text Alert has only about a 40 per cent success strike rate in the Coromandel to mobile phones, due to limited cell coverage, the Thames-Coromandel District Council says.

The trials is one of the agenda items discussed by the council’s new emergency management committee, which met for the first time this week.

The Committee will meet quarterly and is made up of Thames councillors Robyn Sinclair and Sally Christie, mayor Sandra Goudie and Whangamata councillor Terry Walker.

The Committee will be briefed by Civil Defence Controller Garry Towler.


Other issues discussed at the meeting include, tsunami siren maintenance, staff training and a school education campaign.

Assessments of all the tsunami sirens across the district has found them all in varying conditions of use, with the sirens on the eastern seaboard having more wear and tear due to the coastal environment, the council says.

TCDC spends around $6000 annually maintaining the sirens, over the next year the committee will be looking at the future viability of the tsunami sirens on the Coromandel and if the IAD project is a success, the expectation will be to move away from sirens to the IAD over the next decade, the council says.

There are now 17 council staff trained to help with the Emergency Operating Centre if an emergency occurs.

The 17 staff are the first response team, behind this team are more than 50 staff who are capable of carrying out any number of duties required when managing an emergency.

This is double the number from last year and all TCDC staff are provided with some form of civil defence training.

Six new civil defence centre kits have been delivered to sites in the Coromandel, where there have had previous emergencies.

The sites are Whangamata, Tairua, Whitianga, Coromandel, Te Puru and Thames, the kits contain radios, vests, welfare forms, torches, first-aid kits and space blankets.

Throughout the year Pam Balt and Heather Flynn from the emergency management department visit schools to help promote civil defence and emergency management messages.

It’s really important that the messages we share with our younger kids around potential civil defence disasters like earthquake and tsunami are about being prepared, the council says.

Ahead of summer, the mayor will be doing some live streams about civil defence on the council’s Facebook page with Garry from the emergency management team, as well as interviews with Fire and Emergency New Zealand and the police.

The first live stream with Garry will be at 10am Thursday, December 5.

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