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Issue No. 374 October 2013

Be prepared, headquarters staff urged

Inspector Garth den Heyer with one of the emergency radios installed at PNHQ.
Photo: Stephen Matthews, Ten One

An emergency radio has been placed on each level at Police National Headquarters (PNHQ) in Wellington and staff are to be given grab bags as preparedness is boosted after the recent Cook Strait earthquakes.


The July and August quakes focused minds on how staff could be better prepared, says Inspector Garth den Heyer, Manager National Security.


A review of the business continuity plan (BCP) revealed that the whole-of-building plan and business unit plans were operating in isolation. This resulted in individual managers deciding whether or not staff should leave the building after the quake of Friday 16 August.


Operations and other PNHQ groups have developed a framework to ensure a consistent response.

Among the elements:

  • The National Command Team will decide on any evacuation, to be coordinated through floor wardens.
  • Staff will be kept informed through a text tree, telephone tree or via email.
  • A relocation plan has been finalised, with relocation points including Wellington Central, Petone, the RNZPC and Palmerston North if PNHQ becomes unusable.


In addition, an ex-SAR digital radio has been situated on each floor for emergency use. Individual grab bags are to be distributed, containing items of use to staff unable to leave the building. The contents have yet to be decided.


Last month the National Property Office hosted presentations that provided preparedness advice and information about what to do if an emergency affected PNHQ.


"At PNHQ we're in the unique position within Police of being in a 15-storey building very close to a major fault line," says Garth. "But all districts should ensure their BCP is up to date."


In Marlborough, nearer the earthquakes' epicentre, staff are reviewing the functionality of infrastructure for business continuity. Improving back-up generator capability at Blenheim Police Station has been identified as a priority.


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