St John Boosts Disaster Response Capabilities

Elliot Steel |

Funds raised from last year’s St John Annual Appeal have enabled three brand new, fully kitted-out Command Units to hit the road in Auckland, Rotorua and Dunedin.

When managing major incidents, one of the most crucial requirements is reliable communications for the crew on the ground, and 111 emergency communication centres.

St John Head of Clinical Operations Support, Murray Holt, says these new Command Units will ensure St John can provide staff safety, communications, and coordination support on scene at a major disaster such as earthquakes, major flooding, or multiple patient crashes.

“We know infrastructure can be fragile when disaster strikes, and we must have dependable communications to support our communities, and keep delivering our services during these times of greatest need.

“Major incidents affect everyone, but vulnerable, isolated populations can be particularly impacted. These units give us the crucial ability to help identify those in the most urgent need.

 “Kiwi generosity means we’ve been able to purchase these remarkable, state of the art units, each costing over $240,000 to build. One entire Command Unit was gifted by one generous, anonymous donor. A pretty amazing gift to St John and ultimately to New Zealand, providing us with the capability to provide seamless communications no matter what the emergency,” Mr Holt says.

Holt says that quickly establishing command and control at major incidents enables for improved decision making, and the technology of the command units is world class.

Each Command Unit has a generator to run off-grid for many hours, and technology to communicate with all emergency services including traditional telephone, VHF and UHF fixed and portable radios, a Freeview satellite TV to monitor media channels and information.

A second screen with tactical board technology provides the ability to monitor these incidents and the units are equipped with satellite internet capability to provide continuity in areas where 3G or 4G networks may be down.

These new Command Units can also deploy a mobile radio repeater, which helps maintain communications in the field when normal channels are down.

“This capability is great, not only for large-scale major emergencies but also large public events like Christmas in the Park, Round the Bays, Rugby Sevens and so on.

“We cannot thank the New Zealand public enough for their generosity, which will ultimately help us to provide enhanced, life-saving support to largescale events and emergencies,” Holt says.

The vehicles will be deployed to Auckland, Rotorua and Dunedin to ensure the country is covered, with an existing unit already based in Christchurch.

--ENDS--

Image Library:

Command Unit 1

Command Unit 2

Command Unit 3

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