By TRACEY ROXBURGH
A new two-way communication tool’s being introduced to Otago region, following a trial in Queenstown’s Kelvin Heights, among other places, over the past year.
‘Gets Ready’ was set up in the Selwyn District after the Canterbury earthquakes and aims to increase community resilience, strengthen neighbourhood networks and build partnerships between emergency services and local communities.
It’s now being rolled out across the region by Emergency Management Otago (EMO), which is encouraging residents to sign up.
Project coordinator Craig Gibson says Gets Ready’s a two-way tool, which will help get information to people in an emergency, and give them an opportunity to help.
Rather than ‘‘mass alerts’’, Gets Ready — which doesn’t supersede national emergency alerts — has an email and text alert system to help EMO target and send localised information to residents about situations directly affecting them.
That can be anything from a small-scale event — like a boil water notice or a fire ban — to major emergencies like earthquakes, floods, fires, severe weather events and tsunamis.
‘‘The targeting tool is particularly powerful — we can now pinpoint suburbs and streets, right down to the side of a street or a household,’’ Gibson says.
Gets Ready will also better connect people in neighbourhoods and help them look after each other by sharing resources, supporting those who are more vulnerable and linking with Civil Defence to build a clear understanding of what communities need during emergencies and what resources and skills EMO can draw on in any particular area.
It also invites residents to offer help and be part of a coordinated community emergency response.
‘‘Many people like to help out during an emergency and we can tap into their valuable skills and resources if they choose to register them in Gets Ready,’’ Gibson says.
‘‘They can also register to any needs and vulnerabilities they have.’’
That meant EMO could identify people with first-aid training in an area and ask them to check on vulnerable people in their neighbourhood and report back on what those people may need, or, if English was not someone’s first language, connect them with someone who could help translate instructions.
‘‘Or we may call people listed as having 4WD vehicles to help transport people or resources,’’ Gibson says.
Gets Ready also provides a channel for residents to pass on-the-ground intel back to the emergency operations centre through their community response groups.
That helps Civil Defence coordinate targeted responses and get information and help where it’s most needed, quickly and effectively.
Gibson’s aiming to have 20,000 Otago residents registered by the end of this year.
How to sign up
1. Either scan the above QR code using your mobile phone, or visit www.getsready.net to log your contact details
2. Fill out the ‘‘resources, skills and needs’’ section with any relevant details — you can
share as much or as little information as you want
3. Once you receive the activation email (check your junk mail folder if it doesn’t come through within a few minutes) click on the link to activate your profile
● All information’s held privately and securely and is only accessible to authorised Civil