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Published: 2009-05-04 00:00:00

The Waikato Civil Defence and Emergency Management Group has approved the resiting of the Group’s Emergency Operating Centre (GEOC) to Environment Waikato in Hamilton East.

Currently the GEOC is sited at Hamilton City Council’s Duke Street facilities in Frankton but it will shift to EW from July.

Group chairman and Waipa District deputy mayor Peter Lee said the resiting decision made at today’s Group meeting followed a careful review of Civil Defence operations in the region.

“Shifting the GEOC to EW will further centralise high-level regional emergency management capacity in the Waikato.

“EW already has the lead emergency management role in the region during responses to floods, marine oil spills and significant pollution events.

“The Group therefore believes it makes sense for EW to be responsible for hosting and operating the Civil Defence GEOC, which is activated when there is a need for a coordinated regional response to an emergency.”

HCC’s Duke St facilities will continue to host the Civil Defence Emergency Operating Centre for the Waikato Valley Emergency Operating Area covering Waikato District, Hamilton City, Waipa, Otorohanga and Waitomo.

Meanwhile, the Group was given a verbal update from medical officer of health Anita Bell on the response to swine flu in the Waikato.

The Waikato’s current Civil Defence pandemic response plan was developed several years ago in response to concerns about avian influenza, Mr Lee said.

“As a precaution, Civil Defence staff locally are currently reviewing this plan in light of the latest information about swine flu to ensure it is ready and appropriate for use during a swine flu outbreak.

"Our role would be to assist and support the Ministry of Health and the Waikato District Health Board in their management of the situation.

"The Civil Defence pandemic response plan we have now is a solid one but we want to make sure it takes account of all the latest information.”