INDEPENDENT NEWS

New Zealand Red Cross Prepares For The Holidays

Published: Sun 23 Dec 2007 07:27 AM
New Zealand Red Cross Prepares For The Holidays
New Zealand Red Cross is taking the old motto 'be prepared' to heart this holiday season. The National Inquiry Centre (NIC), maintained by New Zealand Red Cross, will be set up in Wellington on Thursday 20 December.
The NIC, a 24 hour, seven day a week call centre, was established eight years ago and can be activated during disaster or emergency situations either at home or overseas, helping connect people who may have been separated or unaccounted for by the incident.
The NIC has been activated on two previous occasions, during the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami when 18,000 calls were received, and again in 2005 following the London bombings.
Andrew McKie, New Zealand Red Cross' Operations Manager says the NIC will be set up tomorrow to ensure it's fully functional should it be needed over the holiday period.
"In recent years there has been a history of international disasters occurring over the holiday season, the 2003 Bam earthquake and the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami being prime examples. If we set the NIC up before everyone goes on leave, we know it can be operational, helping to connect people, with the least amount of initial staff input in just two hours," says McKie.
When activated the NIC, staffed by volunteers and managed by New Zealand Red Cross staff, registers phone enquiries from those seeking to locate family, friends and loved ones they think may have been involved in disaster or emergency situation. The call centre operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week for as long as it is required.
Mr McKie says it is policy for the NIC to be set up before major international events where a large number of New Zealanders can be expected to be involved, like the Olympic and Commonwealth Games and Anzac Day.
New Zealand Red Cross maintains the NIC on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management and the New Zealand Police.
ENDS

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