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Last modified: 07 Nov 2022 4:24pm

A group of people in orange flouro jackets and hard hats look through a pile of concrete rubble

Selwyn’s volunteer emergency responders are now officially among the best in Aotearoa.

The Selwyn Response Team (RT) recently became the third NZ-RT team in the country to achieve new national accreditation standards, showing it meets the requirements to respond to local emergencies and support emergency response teams around the country.

The accreditation comes at the same time as national recognition of Selwyn’s Civil Defence volunteers by Disaster Risk and Resilience expert Professor Tom Wilson. At the recent Selwyn Emergency Services hui, Professor Wilson said that with 290 Civil Defence volunteers, the district is recognised as a national leader in emergency response.

Selwyn RT Deputy Team Leader Belinda Mathers says the team have been steadily growing their skills since they first got together in 2017. They are now able to provide support during the full gambit of emergencies from storms and floods to earthquakes and mass casualties. “We have been called on a number of times to support emergency response, including during flooding events, storms, and after the mosque attacks.”

NZ-RTs are qualified response teams throughout New Zealand who work alongside and assist emergency services such as Fire and Emergency New Zealand and other responding agencies during emergencies.

“Training includes everything from traffic management to setting up a Civil Defence centre and rescuing people from heights,” Belinda says. “During the accreditation assessment, the team were tested on their ability to undertake urban search and rescue, make emergency roof repairs, protect communities with sandbags, and set up a pump to divert water away from homes.”

Council Civil Defence Manager Al Lawn says the accreditation is recognition of the dedication and expertise of this skilled team of volunteers.

“We have 30 highly dedicated people in the team, who meet every week to train weekly. They range in age from their early 20s to their 60s and have a diverse range of skills, from technical expertise to strong interpersonal skills – all of which are critical in an emergency.”

“The common factors amongst them all are that they thrive in physically and mentally challenging environments and have a deep commitment to serving communities.”