Emergency Management Golden Bay (EMGB) has a clear focus to reduce public risk, says local controller Sara Chapman. “Protecting our frontline workers and the community is the role of the local team.”
Following the announcement of the countdown to Alert Level 4 and the declaration of the National State of Emergency, all regional and local civil defence emergency management groups received the call to action. In Golden Bay, EMGB’s core team of five set to work on the transition to lockdown and to support essential services and the supply chain.
Sara, along with Karl and Marina Adams, Darren Foxwell and CJ Webster, are all trained volunteers in critical events, with diverse backgrounds in the defence force, fire and emergency, search and rescue and community education. While they are all in their own home bubbles, they are liaising through teleconferences, a group database and email.
The group were active from the start, says Sara. “The immediate task was to reassure all local agencies in health, welfare and emergency services that their priority was to continue, and the EMGB group set about confirming which businesses in Golden Bay were registered as essential services. The next three days required checks on freedom campers and others who had not followed the mandate to self-isolate and stop travelling.”
All the Bay’s emergency services are on special alert and the intention is to avoid unnecessary 111 calls so that fire and ambulance volunteers are able to turn out safely for serious incidents. New Zealand now has a ban on mountain biking, tramping, hunting, fishing, boating, surfing, swimming and rock climbing. In addition, Nelson, Tasman and Golden Bay have a total fire ban on outdoor fires.
The increased Police presence, Sara explains, is to focus upon encouraging and educating everyone to follow the national guidelines to stay home, avoid non-essential travel and not to burst their bubbles. “With Covid-19 we all have a role to protect the frontline which is our community health centre and pharmacy and includes FreshChoice, On the Spot, dairies, service stations with petrol, diesel and gas, rubbish collection, NelMac and Pohara Beach Top 10 Holiday Park.
“Everyone in residential care at the hospital and rest home, Te Whare Mahana and Abbeyfield, as well as over-70s and those with pre-existing health conditions are more vulnerable and this means greater isolation.”
Recent warm weather has brought people outdoors and this has led to the Government imposing limitations on leisure and recreation outside of home, while providing clarity around Police powers of enforcement. Sara says the EMGB advice is to “Stay local, stay well”, enjoy fresh air and sunshine but don’t drive to play. “We are so lucky to have wide streets, the shared cycleway, expansive beaches, sports fields and reserves, so walk, run or bike near to your own home, say hello, smile and wave but keep at least two metres from people you meet.”
She says that some neighbourhoods are setting times for street meets which enables social chats and laughter while maintaining physical distance.
Sara reiterates some of the Government’s key hygiene messages. “The best advice is to stop wondering who may have Covid-19 and start seeing yourself as a carrier. This will make you more careful. Wash your hands with soap before going out of your home, be aware of personal boundaries, don’t use the public toilets. If you go to the supermarket, stand away from the workers and, if you touch an apple or a tin of soup, then you must buy it, pay without contact and when you get back home wash your hands with soap again.”
EMGB is working closely with council, says Sara. “The team is in regular discussions with the Golden Bay Community Board chair Abbie Langford and our two ward councillors, Celia Butler and Chris Hill in order to understand people’s fears and concerns.”
To submit questions relating to any of the above, email: [email protected]
Article: JO RICHARDS