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Combined universities rescue team leader Steve Glassey (centre in white gloves) discusses search tactics with members of the Taiwan Special Search and Rescue Team in Christchurch last week.


Emergency management training put to work

Steve Glassey, a senior tutor at the Joint Centre for Disaster Research, is back at the University’s Wellington campus after several days in Christchurch leading a combined universities search and rescue team.

Mr Glassey is a former United Nations disaster management officer and is responsible for the development of many aspects of the New Zealand Urban Search and Rescue programme, including the national disaster search dog programme, response team accreditations systems and national training frameworks.

He says Massey graduates helping out with disaster relief in Christchurch include employees of the police and fire service as well as civil defence response volunteers and support staff within the Emergency Operations Centre. “It was really good to see a lot of our students and alumni out there doing what they were trained to do.”

Mr Glassey also worked with disaster specialists from Victoria and Canterbury universities, several of whom are graduates of Massey’s Diploma in Emergency Management, as well as search and rescue personnel from Taiwan in the days following last Tuesday’s disaster.

Since Thursday they have cleared more than 600 homes in the suburb of Richmond and worked with the Taiwan team near the CBD to search buildings and provide first aid.

Mr Glassey has experienced other large-scale events, including the 2009 tsunami in Samoa and a typhoon in Laos, and says overall the response to the disaster has been well coordinated. “For some volunteers it can be demanding work, but not beyond their capacity to respond. It comes down to discipline and training.”

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