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News / Talking COVID-19 with local emergency central controller Steve Fabish

Talking COVID-19 with local emergency central controller Steve Fabish

Talking COVID-19 with local emergency central controller Steve Fabish

Posted April 17, 2020
Emergency Services , Council Matters

Brian Gentil spoke to Steve Fabish who has been seconded from his role as Group Manager of Community Services and Development at Hauraki District Council into a temporary role as a full time controller at Civil Defence to help with coordination to the COVID-19 response from three councils, Matamata Piako, Hauraki and Thames Coromandel.

The three councils have come together to staff an emergency centre to support the coordination of predominantly welfare needs within the three council areas.

Based in Thames, because it is well resourced, council staff form their own bubble and work together.

A national declaration for Alert Level 4 gave clear direction that local civil defence centres needed to stand up and support local needs in their communities, Steve says.

The centre is working to coordinate the welfare agencies and the response to ensure a strong support base for local people.

There is a lot of hurt due to people’s job situations changing, work hours being reduced or being laid off. The local welfare agencies were being overwhelmed and where they can’t supply needs the emergency centre steps up and coordinates - for example: supply one off food parcels until families can get onto a welfare scheme, or get into a supermarket.

Steve talked about the people doing great things in the community. Those who shop for elderly and the good samaritan who supplied 1,000 easter eggs.

He explained how this pandemic is different from natural disasters because we can’t afford to have the risk of cross contamination which could arise through well meaning people passing goods over fences or swapping goods with others.

“You’re better to still stay in your own bubble. If you’re wanting to donate - you can certainly donate some money to the food bank to enable them to help,” Steve says. We don’t want vulnerable people to get sick.

The focus for the first three weeks has been getting systems in place, understanding what the needs in the community were and delivering on them.

Over the three councils about 800 food parcels have been delivered. In the peak about 100 a day were provided but now that people are accessing the help they need through the welfare agencies about 25 to 30 parcels a day are going out.

It’s unclear yet what will need to happen when Alert Level 3 is initiated. There is an ability for more business activity to occur; for more people to go back to work; but Steve stressed the importance for people to stay home, stay within your bubble and reduce the risk.

Anyone needing assistance can call the helpline 0800 800 405 where you’ll be directed to the right agency to help you.

Don’t be backward in coming forward.

To hear the full interview with Steve Fabish - click play on our podcast link.