Emergency preparedness at district health boards before the
Canterbury earthquakes was adequate to deal with a disaster,
University of Otago research published yesterday shows.
Published in the New Zealand Medical Journal, the
study was based on interviews carried out with emergency
planners at 16 district health boards in early 2010. Lead
study author medical student Sultan Al-Shaqsi said the
emergency planners highlighted several issues that concerned
These were that clinicians were not interested in emergency
planning; there was a need for backup if emergency
communication systems failed; and insufficient recognition
was given to the likely value of volunteers who might turn
out after a disaster.
The researchers, who included Prof Robin Gauld of the
department of preventive and social medicine, concluded that,
despite these issues, New Zealand's public health system was
prepared for a disaster before the quakes started in
Several of the issues were earlier detailed in a review of
the initial response to the February 2011 earthquake
undertaken by Prof Mike Ardagh and colleagues at Otago
University's Christchurch campus.
''For example, they identified that backup systems for
lifeline services such as water, communication and
electricity were significant challenges during the initial
response,'' Mr Al-Shaqsi said.