Shona selected from over 100 applicants to join national “Fly-in” Emergency Response Team

5 Sep 2019, 12:30 PM

After a rigorous application process, which included a barrage of personality type and psychometric testing, plus a two- week live in camp in Wellington, our CDEM Officer – Community Resilience, Shona Morgan has been selected to join the NZ EMAT (New Zealand Emergency Management Assistance Team).

The new on-call team, developed by MCDEM (Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management), is a first for New Zealand and Shona is the only Northlander to have made it to the final 14 from more than 100 nation-wide who applied.

Shona said the two-week intensive that was part of the selection process was “like nothing I have ever done before and completely not what I expected. I was expecting it to be very task focused with a checklist of things we would need to know how to do. But rather than that, the focus was very much on understanding our own leadership styles and learning how to ‘lead from the side’. The whole ethos of the team is about flying in to support the local team with their expertise, it’s not about coming in and taking over ‘command’ of a situation”.

“The course was extremely challenging with 15+ hour days, various activities to replicate the environment we could potentially be deployed into (i.e. no accommodation, no power, no water) and a lot of leadership training and developmental reflection. The highlights of the course for me were the over-night stay at Waiwhetu Marae, the high ropes course, spending the day with All Blacks psychologist Ceri Evans, and the 36-hour exercise which we coordinated out of tents with very few resources.”

Because the purpose of the national team is to quickly provide expertise to any area in New Zealand, Shona has her own “Kit” that she takes with her when she is deployed so she can be completely self-sufficient. It’s a little more comprehensive than your average “Emergency Grab Bag” though. You can see from the photos that they include everything from cooking facilities to inflatable tents.

Team members come from across the whole country and need to be ready at a moment’s notice (well actually between 4hrs and 24hrs notice) to travel to anywhere in New Zealand. Obviously, this will have a big impact on Shona’s family, but she said her partner and daughters were completely supportive of her application and encouraged her to have a go.

As of 2 September 2019, the NZ EMAT team is now fully operational and Shona’s three year, on-call journey begins.

Deployment kits for each team member.

Deployment kits for each team member.

Shona Morgan at Waiwhetu Marae.

Shona Morgan at Waiwhetu Marae.

Shona on the high wire challenge.

Shona on the high wire challenge.

Inflatable tents.

Inflatable tents.

Tents are setup ready for the exercise.

Tents are setup ready for the exercise.