The first of five brand new, specially designed New Zealand Red Cross disaster welfare support trucks will be unveiled in Auckland today.
Lessons learnt from the Canterbury earthquakes have highlighted the importance of being prepared. Over the last two years New Zealand Red Cross has placed significant focus on investing and building its response capability to ensure it is there to support, and augment existing Civil Defence welfare capability, by bringing in trained volunteers and equipment from non-affected areas for a sustained national response.
The new trucks are an investment of about $1.5 million, funded from donations from other Red Cross National Societies.
New Zealand Red Cross International Operations and Emergencies Manager Andrew McKie says disasters can strike quickly and without warning, and we have learnt from Christchurch that it is critical we prepare.
"These trucks, along with our newly formed national disaster response team complement our existing capability to be able to support a national response to a disaster anywhere in the country.
"Red Cross is now more prepared than ever before to respond, and support other organisations, to deliver first aid, welfare and search and rescue services in disaster and emergency situations."
The trucks each hold welfare centre set-up equipment including stretchers, mattresses and blankets for 140 people, basic food and toiletries for volunteers for a couple of days, medical supplies, an AED, individual and centre hygiene sets, lighting sets and telecommunication sets. The trucks also provide room for emergency personnel to perform mass casualty triage and pre-hospital emergency first aid support if needed.
Thirty four per cent of the world’s natural disasters occurred in the Asia Pacific region in 2011 including the Christchurch earthquakes, the worst floods in living memory in Australia and a triple disaster impacting Japan.
"Due to our location New Zealand is vulnerable to a range of natural hazards, and climate change is likely to increase the frequency and intensity, so it is critical we all be prepared," says Mr McKie.
The first truck will be based in Wellington, the others in Auckland, Hamilton, Christchurch and Dunedin. The other four trucks are currently being built and will be ready in the next two to three months.