What's the Plan, Stan? Diary 4

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Date: 
Thursday, October 13, 2016
Field Trip Name: 
What's the Plan, Stan?
Field Trip Place: 
Auckland
Weather: 
Fine
Where You Are: 
Around Auckland

Kia Ora everyone, 

Today we focussed on man-made and biological hazards. There hasn’t been much of a focus on these within the field trip website so I was interested in finding out a bit more about them.

Final audioconference

The final field trip audioconference took place at the Civil Defence and Emergency Management office at Auckland. Our speaking schools this morning were once again Picton School and Pukekohe Intermediate who had a range of good questions. It has certainly been a fascinating learning experience throughout all the audioconferences and the informal chat sessions in the LEARNZ Adobe Connect meeting room. You can listen at any time to these – just go to Audioconferences.

Pandemic

Hamish Keith took us to Auckland Hospital to talk about pandemics. A pandemic is the spread of an epidemic between many countries. The most likely cause of a pandemic in New Zealand is a new strain of influenza (‘the flu’).

Hamish explained that a pandemic would impact on all services. Many people would need to stay away from others and businesses may have to close for a while to stop the disease spreading. Emergency services, food distribution, power and telecommunications would all be affected during a pandemic.

Hamish advised to have a plan and be prepared in case you need to stay at home during a pandemic. You and your family may even be so sick that you cannot leave the house for several weeks. Keep contact details for friends, family and neighbours so you can call them if you need help.

Animal and plant pests and diseases

It was nice to take a drive next to Cornwall Park, which was also a good setting for our next discussion. While our isolation in some ways protects our animals and plants from some overseas diseases, there is still a risk. 

Plant diseases can threaten agricultural crops (as seen with PSA and Kiwifruit), or threaten our special flora (as seen with kauri dieback disease). Outbreaks of other diseases or pests (such as foot-and-mouth in animals or fruit fly in apples) would affect New Zealand’s export markets and would bring serious impacts to New Zealand's economy, rural communities and support industries such as food processing and transport. Some animal diseases, such as tuberculosis or swine flu, can also infect humans and could even result in a human pandemic.

The ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) in particular is always looking for pests and diseases that may have arrived from overseas. You could find out more about how they do this.

Fire and hazardous substance spills

There were some questions in this week’s audioconferences about fire and hazardous substances. You may not have much to do with hazardous substances, but it might be a different story when it comes to fire. With Guy Fawkes coming up, this is a good time to remind everyone about being very careful when it comes the use of fire. Things like campfires or even the fire you might have at home for heating, are also examples of activities that need extra care. Hamish reminded you to contact your local council if you are unsure about rules regarding fires – check out the video for further learning.

Terrorism and civil unrest

When I was a child I had never heard of the word terrorism. I’m sure most of you have heard it being used at some point in recent times. Fortunately, we’re pretty safe here in New Zealand from terrorism, although as Hamish says it always pays to know the plan of action should anything untoward go down. Hopefully your school has a lock-down procedure that you practice. My daughter’s school had a bomb threat earlier this year (which turned out to be a hoax) and they all had to put their lock-down procedure into action!

The idea of civil unrest is something I am more familiar with. For example, as a youngster I clearly remember the protesting that took place during the 1981 Springbok rugby tour. Hamish pointed out that in Auckland, civil unrest could take the form of such actions as illegal parades or demonstrations, sit-ins, riots, sabotage and other forms of crime which could easily escalate into general chaos. This sort of action can disrupt the likes of public transportation or access to public spaces. 

Infrastructure failure

And finally today, we joined Hamish and Stan downtown at the ferry terminals to discuss infrastructure failure. Infrastructure includes things like buildings, roads, power and gas supplies, transport and so on that are needed for the operation of our communities. Try making a list with your classmates of all the infrastructure that you rely on each day, then think about how you would cope if one or more of these failed for a period of time.

Once again, Hamish said the key to staying safe with this type of hazard is to have a plan. A good background page to look at is Never happens? Happens. You can also visit the updated What’s the Plan Stan? website. In particular, check out The I.M.P.A.C.T Team than can help you to be ready in case an emergency comes that involves you, your whānau and your whole community comes your way.

I certainly hope that after participating in this field trip you have a much better idea of the different hazards and how to prepare for emergencies. I know the ambassadors and I certainly do! It has been great visiting the big city, but I admit I’m looking forward to going back home to quiet little old Kerikeri!

See you on another field trip soon!

Andrew the LEARNZ field trip teacher

Hamish Keith has been brilliant at answering all your questions on the audioconferences this week. Image: LEARNZ.

Auckland Hospital. What is significant about places ike this if a pandemic were to occur? Image: LEARNZ.

Poor Stan - I hope he is okay! Image: LEARNZ.

It looks like Stan has made a full recovery. Here he is at Cornwall Park with Hamish Keith and Andrew. Image: LEARNZ.

Auckland Central Fire Station. A lovely old building containing some important people and equipment often needed during emergencies. Image: LEARNZ.

Hamish Keith, Stan and Andrew outside Auckland Central Fire Station. Image: LEARNZ.

Oh no, I hope that is not a hazardous substance that Stan is trying to avoid! Image: LEARNZ.

This is where you might get taken if you were to cause civil unrest. Image: LEARNZ.

Andrew with Stan at the ferry terminal in downtown Auckland. Image: LEARNZ.