Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) were part of the preparation for the first public tours of the devastated central business district in Christchurch, New Zealand. On Feb. 22, 2011, a 6.3 earthquake just six miles from New Zealand’s second largest city killed 185 people and injured hundreds of others.
Coming just months after a 7.1 quake in the same region, the quake demolished already weakened structures, liquified the ground in entire neighborhoods, and forced closure of the city’s central business distract.
In the past year, the Christchurch Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) has evaluated all the business district structures, and has slated many, including churches and historic buildings, for demolition. Beginning in December 2011, Project Olive gave members of the public their first opportunity to enter the Red Zone and see the demolition and restoration work in progress.
The New Zealand Red Cross helped organized the Project Olive bus tours, equipping each vehicle with a safety officer trained in First Aid and a Powerheart G3 AED. Safety procedures for the public tour into the still-hazardous demolition area were strict, requiring sturdy, closed shoes. Each bus was followed by a car in case a passenger needed to be removed from the Red Zone before the tour ended.
Daniel Tobin, and NZ News Service reporter who took the 40-minute silent tour (audio was available on personal media players, but users had to wear earphones), wrote about “the broken heart of the city” near the six-storey Canterbury Television building, where 115 people died.
The February 2011 earthquake, and subsquent quakes in June 2011 and December 2011, have resulted in heightened awareness of emergency preparedness and emergency response in New Zealand. For more information on first aid equipment and AEDs in New Zealand, please contact the New Zealand Red Cross.
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