When disaster strikes the ability to respond quickly is critical — and Emergency Management Otago’s AirShelter is set to help Central Otago authorities when it counts.

Central Otago District Council (CODC) staff got to test out the self-contained emergency response shelter last week, familiarising themselves with its set up and use.

Emergency management adviser to CODC Derek Shaw, of Emergency Management Otago said in a Civil Defence situation council would lead the response so it was important for the team to have an understanding of how the shelter worked.

‘‘In situations if it gets to that stage, and the traditional emergency services get overwhelmed . . .pretty much everybody here has been trained from that civil defence point of view,’’ he said.

The shelter — which took four people 45 minutes to set up — was transportable in a self-contained trailer, complete with generators and other supplies and could also be airlifted by helicopter, Mr Shaw said.

It added a layer of resilience and preparedness to the region, as well as minimising impact on the community they were supporting while establishing an emergency operations centre.

‘‘[It means in] some event we’re turning up and we’re not going to impact on [that community], we’re not adding to the issue,’’ he said.

‘‘It can be used for whatever you like . . .it’s just really limited by your imagination.’’

St John and other services could set up in or next to the emergency operation centre.

CODC group manager for community vision Dylan Rushbrook, who is also an incident controller, said the shelter gave the functionality of the standard emergency operations centre with the flexibility of being mobile.

‘‘The theory being, if we can’t access what would normally be our standard emergency operations centre — the council chambers building — if that’s flooded or there’s a fire or we just can’t get to it for whatever reason, this can be set up as a makeshift emergency operation centre.’’

It also allowed the response to be located in the area the emergency was taking place, he said.