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New aviation emergency support plan for Otago gets off the ground

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

A co-ordinated approach to air operations in the Otago region after a major natural disaster has achieved lift-off.

Emergency Management Otago and Fire and Emergency NZ have signed a Memorandum of Understanding detailing how they will collaborate on regionwide air operations in emergencies. The agreement is part of a new Aviation Emergency Support Plan which they have developed with regional airport and aviation operators over the past 18 months.

The plan will:

co-ordinate aircraft movements in Otago to ensure the most efficient use of limited aircraft resources and aviation fuel supplies

prioritise aerial inspections of infrastructure and lifeline utilities, particularly after a severe earthquake with regional impacts

enable emergency management personnel to get to remote or hardest hit areas as soon as practicable.

The plan has been signed off by the region’s Mayors and Chief Executive through the Otago Civil Defence Emergency Management Joint Committee and the Coordinating Executive Group which comprises Chief Executives from the region’s councils, emergency services and iwi.

Emergency Management Otago Manager Matt Alley says the air operations plan aims to increase community resilience by building partnerships between emergency services and local communities.

"In emergencies, knowledge is key and working together is critical. Having strong relationships and a co-ordinated plan in place ahead of time means that we can all respond more quickly and effectively when an emergency arises.

"We’re very grateful to all of our response partners for taking the time to share their knowledge and expertise with us, particularly Fire and Emergency. We recognised early on that their team had extensive experience in emergency aircraft management responses, particularly in wildfires and bushfires, so we wanted to tap into their existing resources, skills, sophisticated processes and procedures rather than reinventing the wheel."

Fire and Emergency Region Manager Mike Grant said it was logical for the organisation’s specialist skills in managing large scale aircraft movements to be available to civil defence during emergencies. The Memorandum of Understanding provided the framework for that to occur. "We work with civil defence regularly and we are committed to providing whatever support we can," he said.

The plan has been distributed to all response partners and is available on the Emergency Management Otago website

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