Searching for community civil defence champions

Emergency Management and Community Resilience Advisor, Theo Ursum

Champions who can help in a time of crisis are the pieces of gold being sought in Western Bay communities by newly appointed Emergency Management and Community Resilience Advisor, Theo Ursum.

Theo will be canvassing communities in the Western Bay to find “community champions” - people keen to take the lead in helping develop community response plans for use in the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster or emergency.

Theo joined Emergency Management Bay of Plenty in August, having been general manager of Volunteering Bay of Plenty for almost five years.

He is keen to put his organisational skills to work to create a response framework in each community that would enable people to be self-sustaining in the immediate aftermath (up to three days) of an emergency event.

“Response teams led and made up of local people are the best strategy in the immediate aftermath of an emergency or disaster because of their local knowledge and social networks,” says Theo.

“I am looking for community champions – individuals who are prepared to take the lead and help pull volunteers together – so that we have these community response teams ready to help others in times of need.

“This community-driven response plan is owned and developed by the community; it is not imposed by the local council or civil defence,’’ says Theo.

“With my guidance, these plans will be developed by people – stakeholders and organisations - from within the community. But ownership of the plan stays with each community, represented by the stakeholder group.”

The final draft of the community plan will be presented at a public meeting. Once finalised, the document will be signed off by the Western Bay mayor and reviewed annually.

Theo’s work in Western Bay builds on emergency management preparation already in place, such as groups of civil defence volunteers and Community Response Plans.

Theo will be reviewing existing plans, updating them and helping put new plans in place to create a district-wide framework for community emergency response.

Anyone interested in putting up their hands for community response involvement can contact Theo Ursum by email: theo.ursum@embop.govt.nz

For more information on Emergency Management Bay of Plenty visit bopcivildefence.govt.nz of check out facebook.com/bopcivildefence or twitter.com/bopcivildefence


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