Great chance to serve community

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YVONNE O’HARA
yvonne.ohara@alliedpress.co.nz

Just a month into his new job as the region’s civil defence emergency management officer, Matt Alley is busy training, and developing district community response plans.

He spent 16 years with the police before taking on his role with the Otago Regional Council, and it gave him a new challenge and another way to serve his community, Mr Alley said.

“This job is a really great opportunity to do that.”

He is based in the Central Otago District Council buildings, just down the road from his old workplace, the Alexandra police station.

“My area goes from Queensbury and the Lindis to Kyeburn and Raes Junction.”

His role includes networking, liaising and building relationships with partner agencies, stakeholders and the communities in his area.

“Part of my role is helping build resilience in isolated communities like Ranfurly and Ettrick.”

He also works with council staff, emergency services, power providers and community stakeholders to ensure communities are in the best possible position in case of a major event, whether it is an adverse weather event such as a heavy snowfall or storm, or an earthquake or fire.

“A lot of what I do falls into the four ‘Rs’: reduction (reducing risk), readiness (making sure staff and facilities are ready in the event of an emergency), response (to an emergency) and recover.”

One of the projects Mr Alley is working on is the preparation and publication of district community response plans, which is fitting as this week is the Civil Defence and Emergency Management’s “Get Ready Week”, with the theme “Stay safe, stay informed”.

Cromwell’s plan has been published, and the Maniototo’s plan is due for release in a couple of weeks.

He is also working on one for the Teviot Valley and next year hopes to cover Alexandra, Clyde and Earnscleugh, the Ida Valley and other areas.

The community response plans contain maps, key people and contact details, important information for adverse events and emergencies, advice on preparing a survival kit and household emergency plan, vulnerable population areas, meeting places and evacuation routes.

He said there was often a perception that a team of people would come rushing to a community’s aid, but that might not be the case.

If a community was cut off, it would have to rely on itself in the short to medium term, so it was important each community built its own resilience and knew about the likely risks and hazards, Mr Alley said.

emergency plan, and discuss among your work colleagues and family what they are going to do in a large-scale event, such as where you are going to meet.

bridges between work and home are there and what plan have you got if you can’t get home?

“What equipment do you have?

“It is something all families need to know,” he said.

For more information go online to www.otagocdem.govt.nz/districts/central-otago.

If life or property is at risk, call 111 (fire, police, ambulance).

Mr Alley can be contacted by calling or texting 027 581-5365 or by emailing matt.alley@otagocdem.govt.nz