Some of our USAR people located at NHQ, Auckland, and Hawke’s Bay participated in a China-run INSARAG International Earthquake Response Exercise (IERE).

INSARAG is a global network of more than 90 countries, committed to developing minimum international standards for USAR teams to ensure effective and coordinated USAR response.

Each year these standards are practised and tested through an Earthquake Response Exercise (ERE). ERE’s are typically held Regionally (Asia-Pacific, the Americas, or Africa-Europe- Middle East) by a host country to coincide with a Regional meeting, so as to make the most of those members who have travelled to the host country.

Due to the continued restrictions presented by COVID, several exercises have been cancelled, and more recently online versions have been developed to prevent full cancellation. This online ERE was called an International ERE to reflect the attendance of teams from outside the Asia-Pacific e.g. Jordan, Greece, and Germany.

National and International Response Manager, Ian Duncan, said the online version tests, through virtual means, the management of mobilising, arriving, coordinating meetings and briefings, search and rescue assessments (ASR), demobilising, and the ability to respond to other tasks that teams may have skills for.

“The tracking of these tasks is done through virtual platforms including the INSARAG Coordination Management System (ICMS) that New Zealand played a pivotal role in developing. The ICMS dashboard allows for real-time analysis of data meaning that the resulting response is as coordinated and effective as is possible.

“This was the first online IERE and this in itself presented problems with connectivity issues, application familiarity, and Zoom capability. At any one time, there were more than 100 individuals logged in, so sometimes all three issues aligned and there had to be a hard restart of the exercise. 

“We found that the teams taking part are all at different levels of knowledge, skills and experience, and so we found ourselves not only running the exercise but also coaching teams through the processes. That being said, everyone got an enormous amount out of it."

 Ian said he wanted to record thanks for the effort put into the New Zealand response to the IERE. 

“In Hastings we had Mike Peachey (running a Sector Coordination Cell at one-day’s notice), and Bruce Botherway (performing all the NZL1 team roles). They did a solid job of this.

 “In particular, I would like to note the input of Ken Cooper, Jeff Maunder and Craig Monrad as Exercise Control (EXCON). Both Ken and Jeff are obviously contending with the impact of the mandatory vaccination work, yet still put three full days into the exercise over and above this, coming down to Wellington and putting every effort into making it a success. Craig had to do his EXCON role remotely from the rest of us, in Auckland, which was particularly challenging given the coordinating nature of being in an EXCON team.”


Ken Cooper, District Manager, Hawke's Bay

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