The weekend was a very large but very successful mass casualty exercise for all involved.
On Friday morning a forward party comprising of Janelle, Brian, Jude and Cairo (search dog in training) set off with all the gear – tents, rescue and welfare equipment. The tents were set up (eventually!) at the Pohara Beach Camp site prior to the rest of the team – James, Mita, Ian, Sharon and Rowan all arriving in the small hours.
Already arrived and set up were the other teams participating, NZRT2 (Nelson) and NZRT9 (Upper Hutt Community Rescue) a total of 38 rescue personnel.
The team leaders were given a short briefing on Friday night which informed the rest of us to be fed and ready for something by 0600 hours the following morning. This turned out to be an earthquake in which we were deployed to search a “camp site” which was actually a large ex-cement factory, mainly demolished but with some structures remaining.
James was on the Incident Management Team (operations) for first shift (4 hours) while the
rest of us with Brian as TL set up the CCP. It was challenging with a team 6 to 7 to set up the CCP and the welfare component associated. Three large Ezi-Up tents were used for the CCP which worked well, initial set up had to be quick as walking patients arrived soon after. On the initial shift we had 20 patients through – 2 of which were transported out while another 3 “died”. The CCP was then handed over the NZRT2.
Next tasking for the RATS was to 2 jobs – atmosphere testing of semi-confined spaces that Jude and Ian checked out, James took over the site control role while the rest of the team dealt with a heights rescue. Their casualty was situated approx 8m up a tower on a slanting platform. An ARABS system with anchors right around the tower was set up, the casualty was lowered using the gold tail without an attendant. Janelle with Mita as her back up got
a chance to work Cairo over the site, he located 2 patients that had been genuinely missed and another that had not been victim marked by reccie parties. In the middle of this shift the whole site had to evacuated to a higher ground due to a Tsunami warning. Jude and Ian were sent to perform a real evacuation of a Pohara street where the residents were asked to move to a welfare centre higher up the street.
Our last tasking which all the team was involved in was to a difficult ladder based rescue which took some
initiative and all the energy the team had left - included a horizontal ladder slide and big traditional ladder slide. Patient was extricated and we were all packed up by 1830 hours.