Orion puts emergency response to the test

10 May 2023 at 9:13 am

The Orion team recently carried out a Coordinated Incident Management System (CIMS) training exercise to test our coordinated response in the event of a disaster following a catastrophic natural hazard event.

“Exercise New Moon” put people and systems to the test with a simulated Alpine Fault Magnitude 8 (AF8) scenario.

Scientists predict there’s a 75% probability of an earthquake along the Alpine Fault in the next 50 years, with an 80% chance of the event being magnitude 8 or higher. It’s highly likely an AF8 earthquake could bring widespread sustained blackouts.

“To keep our people on their toes, kaimahi weren’t forewarned about when the exercise would kick off. We sent an automated text out on the Friday morning, and everyone leapt into action!” says Steve Macdonald, GM Electricity Networks.

An Emergency Operations Centre was established at the Connetics office and assigned functions to people as they arrived – including Operations, Logistics, Welfare, Planning and Intelligence.

“Teams worked really well together to gather information and make a coordinated plan. All the while they were dealing with challenges like limited power and internet, which are factors we’ll all need to contend with in a real event.”

The exercise wrapped up with a hot debrief to share lessons and insights led by Exercise Controller Michelle Gillman from PlanitSafe

“Orion is absolutely committed to capability building and readiness for significant emergencies and disasters following significant natural hazard events. It has been an honour to work with them as they continue to increase strength in these areas. All Lifeline organisations are critically important following a disaster and a response usually hinges on their availability and capacity to provide services to affected communities”, Gillman said.

“I urge all Lifelines and other commercial operations to review their resilience measures, build emergency management capability within their teams, plan for all types of significant events and test these plans at least annually.”

“As we know here in Canterbury, we can’t anticipate when a disaster will strike but we can make sure we’re prepared if one does occur,” says Steve.