Working with the Red Cross emergency management team Christchurch, Glenda made the call to deploy the team at 2.30am that morning. The team drove the width of the South Island through the night to reach the other side of the coast.

In the meantime, the Greymouth DWST deployed their volunteers and were helping the local community, who had activated a community response plan.

With a state of emergency in effect, the Christchurch team, known as RC23, went straight to Civil Defence to help provide assistance and supplies like blankets, as well as emotional support for people who’d been forced to leave their homes and hotel rooms (with many of those evacuated being tourists); an important part of the team’s duties.

When a disaster happens, Glenda says that the most important thing is that the team are ready. “That’s what makes our training so important. Good training makes for a successful deployment. All that the team had learnt kicked into gear, and straight away everyone was into it.”

As the flood waters receded, the Greymouth and Christchurch teams helped with the clean-up effort, and happened to be in the right place at the right time when a local resident suffered a stroke.

Want to help communities during an emergency?

With more keen, active volunteers needed to help out in emergencies like the one in Franz Josef, Glenda says joining the team has many benefits.

“Being part of the team has given me the opportunity to apply new skills in my paid work, in a quality assurance role for the Christchurch rebuild. And in turn, the skills I’ve gained in volunteering have fed back into my paid role, and my professional development too.”

There’s no doubt in Glenda’s mind that what gets people through an emergency, whether they’re a resident in the thick of it or part of disaster welfare and support, is preparedness.

“The interesting parts of the role to me are the processes behind readiness and preparedness. They’re so critical.”

Get involved with helping out communities during emergencies, and learn new skills.

Apply to volunteer with a Disaster Welfare and Support Team in your region.