Day in the life of an emergency essential worker
The Wellington Region Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Group, alongside the District Health Boards, and Regional Public Health, has been working hard to support the pandemic response since the State of National Emergency was declared on 25 March 2020.
The CDEM Group is made up of the region’s Territorial Authorities: Kāpiti Coast, Lower Hutt, Upper Hutt, Porirua, Masterton, Carterton, South Wairarapa, Wellington City as well as the Greater Wellington Regional Council, emergency services, District Health Boards, lifeline utilities, the Wellington Region Emergency Management Office (WREMO) and other welfare agencies.
From a base in Thorndon, the CDEM Group coordinates our region's civil defence and emergency management response during large scale events such as an earthquake or a pandemic.
Nora Moore, Environmental Policy Hearing Advisor at Greater Wellington Regional Council, is currently a member of the Wellington Region CDEM Welfare Team who is implementing a needs assessment programme across the region, using a system developed for the COVID-19 response, called Āwhina (te reo for ‘Help’).
“Using Āwhina, we assess people’s needs so we can coordinate with councils and welfare agencies to offer the right support to those who need it.
“We are here to help anyone, including those struggling to make ends meet, older people, or those coping with medical conditions that make them more vulnerable to COVID-19.
“Our training and contacts in the community help us find temporary accommodation, food and essential supplies, or support to access healthcare for families or individuals. The support we provide varies case by case because everybody’s situation is different,” Nora says.
Last week, the Wellington Region CDEM Group provided essential goods for around 3000 people. Food package delivery was a combined effort and delivered at a local level by our region’s six Emergency Operation Centres. Since then many families have been in touch to express their gratitude for the much needed support.
“The nature of the support we provide is intense, but worth it. Especially, when you hear the stories from the people we’ve supported. It really makes all the hard work worth it.”
Nora has been working in our region’s Welfare Team since early April 2020 and has found that every day brings new learnings – she does not come from an emergency response background.
“In general, it’s a case of recognising what skills we can bring to the table and making the most of them. There is a lot of support in place to ensure we’re doing the best job we can, and remaining safe while we do this work.”
The CDEM Group is communicating with our region's diverse populations using tools to reach groups with audio and visual impairment, English as a second language, and those isolated by age, disability and financial deprivation.
Michelle de la Bertauche, Public Information Management Manager at the Wellington Region CDEM Group says, “A significant amount of effort is going into ensuring we communicate with hard-to-reach individuals and groups. But we’re also relying on the public to spread the word about the support we can offer.”
If you know someone who needs support, encourage them to visit wremo.nz/support or call the Wellington Region COVID-19 Helpline - 0800 141 967.