Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Marlborough volunteers simply the best

Marlborough’s volunteer emergency responders are now officially among the best in the country.

The Marlborough Response Team recently became the second response team in the country to achieve new national accreditation standards, showing it meets the requirements to respond not only to local emergencies but also events around the country and overseas.

Team Manager, Gary Spence says the team has been working towards accreditation for 18 months.

“We must be able to demonstrate skills and expertise in a number of disciplines, from mass casualty triage, setting up and running Civil Defence centres, rescue of casualties from collapsed buildings and rope rescue,” said Mr Spence.

“We must also be entirely self-sufficient if sent to another region to assist.  The team trains with Fire and Emergency and St John and has been tasked by Police for rope-based search and rescue.”

The National Emergency Management Agency has developed a training and standards programme so all thirty teams in New Zealand have common training and operating structures.

Marlborough Mayor, Nadine Taylor said the team deserved recognition.

“This is an acknowledgement of their hard work and dedication over a long period.  Marlburians can be proud they have a dedicated, skilled and respected response team who can respond effectively in an emergency.”

“The common factors amongst its members is that they thrive in what can be a physically and mentally challenging environment and they have a deep commitment to serving their community,” Mayor Taylor said.

The team started out in 2013 with just four members. The current team of 26 trains weekly, with extra training for rope work or when training or responding with other emergency services or response teams. In 2018 the team did its first General Rescue and Rescue at Heights courses. They are now qualified in ground-based rescue, Civil Defence Centre set up and supervision, mass rescue response, helicopter and 4WD response. 

Members range in age from their early 20s to their 60s and have a diverse range of skills, from technical expertise to strong interpersonal skills, all of which are critical in an emergency.

The team has assisted in a number of emergencies in the South Island, including the Kaikōura earthquake response; the Gita and Fehi storms in Nelson/Tasman; the flood response on the West Coast; the Pigeon Valley fires in Nelson and the two storm and flood responses in Marlborough in 2021 and 2022.

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