Emergency readiness focus of week at uni

Preparing the university's more than 20,000 students for all forms of disaster is the goal of an ''Emergency Preparedness Week'' at the University of Otago next month - understood to be the first of its kind in the country.

The week includes an earthquake drill, an exhibition highlighting disasters which could happen in Otago, and an emergency preparedness activity day as well as a simulated lockdown.

It will run from September 2 to September 6, and OUSA student support, the university and Civil Defence Emergency Management Otago have organised it.

OUSA spokeswoman Ingrid Roding said the Otago Regional Council natural hazard database showed North Dunedin was susceptible to alluvial fans, flooding, seismic activity and liquefaction - as well as ''the occasional snow''.

''We hope to cover these and the Alpine Fault [in the exhibition] alongside testimonials from people who have experienced or responded to a natural disaster or emergency situation.''

The emergency preparedness day will give students the opportunity to learn from experts about how to protect themselves and their loved ones during an emergency, as well as giving them the opportunity to win prizes and enjoy free food.

On September 6 at noon there will be a simulated lockdown drill across the campus, when all Gallagher-controlled doors will lock.

OUSA student support manager Sage Burke said students had faced several emergency-type situations in the past few years, including localised power cuts, flooding and snow.

''We hope students will gain an awareness of the many issues which could happen during an emergency, as well as equip themselves with tools and knowledge to prepare for any possibility.

''We want students to know we are there to support them in an emergency but also aid them in developing the resources to help themselves.''

The Emergency Broadcast System will be tested twice during Emergency Preparedness Week, during the ShakeOut earthquake drill and the lockdown drill.

It is one of the tools used by the university in the event of an emergency to inform students, staff and the community of an incident and provide instructions or information to them.

elena.mcphee@odt.co.nz

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