Meet 'Stan' and learn about Civil Defence, and how schools can do their bit for emergency preparedness.
Civil Defence Emergency Management
& 'What's the Plan Stan?'
This issue of SITE looks at Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) in general and the educational resource 'What’s The Plan, Stan?'
A little bit of history
New Zealand has always been vulnerable to devastation by natural forces. The effects of events such as the 1886 Tarawera eruption, the 1931 Napier earthquake, the 1968 Wahine storm, Cyclone Bola in 1988 and more recently the Canterbury and Kaikoura earthquakes, to name a few, were devastating.
New Zealand’s civil defence organisation, which dates back to the 1930s, has had the task of managing the response to these kinds of emergencies. It was not until 1959 that the establishment of the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management (MCDEM) formalised earlier attempts to deal with natural disasters. The development of the ministry and the evolution of its role over the years illustrates the changes in both the public perception of the threats posed by natural emergencies and the way they have been dealt with.
In Taranaki, the three district councils and the regional council make up the Taranaki Civil Defence Emergency Management Group which works to reduce the risk and leads the preparation for and coordinates the response to emergencies.
What's the Plan Stan?
I am sure you have heard of ‘What’s the Plan Stan?’ the educational resource which seeks to improve awareness and understanding of the hazards we face in New Zealand. It promotes emergency preparedness in primary and intermediate schools by providing teachers and students with the knowledge and skills to act in a safe manner when a disaster occurs. But it is also a useful resource for early childhood centres, kindergartens and high schools.
First published in 2006, written in Te Reo in 2008, updated in 2009 and recently improved again, it has proved to be a valuable resource for many teachers. It is aligned to the New Zealand Curriculum’s vision for young people being confident, connected and actively involved and lifelong learners.
It encourages community and participation for the common good by promoting innovation, inquiry and curiosity through critical, creative and reflective thinking. In addition, its principles of community engagement, coherence and future focus are promoted in meaningful ways, with strong links to the key competencies.
The programme can be taught in the context of several learning areas including Health and Physical Education, Social Studies, Science and English.
The recent changes in ‘What’s the Plan, Stan?’ can be seen online at www.whatstheplanstan.govt.nz(external link). Superheroes are used to help students make the right decisions should they be stuck at home, can’t get home, have to evacuate or have no power, water, phone or internet.
Early childhood centres, kindergartens & schools
Comprehensive nationwide research in 2012 revealed that 75% of primary and intermediate teachers had heard of ‘What’s the Plan Stan?’ 70% of them rated it to be a useful or very useful resource but perhaps surprisingly only 33% had actually used it in their teaching.
I am hopeful that those percentages have risen since then, particularly the last one. Nationwide earthquake exercises such as NZ Shakeout in 2012 and 2015 would almost certainly have lifted the figures especially in Taranaki where the response from virtually everyone was magnificent.
Is Turtle Safe still relevant?
It certainly is and all early childhood centres and kindergartens should have copies of the video and hopefully they use it in their earthquake practices. If yours is missing, please contact the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management (MCDEM) for a replacement.
Is Drop Cover Hold still the way to go with earthquakes?
Yes, and all educational institutions should practise it regularly.
What about fire drills?
A fire drill is a method of practising how a school should be evacuated in the event of a fire. Usually, the school's existing fire alarm system is activated and the school is evacuated as if the emergency is occurring. Students and teachers should practise getting out of, and away from the school buildings as quickly and safely as possible.
What about a 'lock down' practice?
Lots of schools have a school ‘lock down’ practice as part of their emergency preparation plans. A school lock down is when students, teachers, and other adults are confined to their rooms due to a perceived or real threat.
How can we help?
Kevin would love to visit your school to talk to you and your class(es) to cover:
- Types of emergencies that could occur in Taranakiand what actions to take if they happen.
- The impacts we may face in an emergency event and how to prepare.
He can also assist with teacher delivered curriculum planning, to further explore the topic. Children can take home a ‘Get Ready Get Thru’ pack, then put together with their family, a household emergency plan, emergency survival items for staying at home, and a getaway kit should the need arise to leave home in a hurry.
Additional copies of ‘What’s the Plan Stan?’ can be obtained from the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management(external link).
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