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73 Strong NSW emergency taskforce heading to New Zealand

Published: 22nd February 2011

Premier Kristina Keneally has announced a taskforce of 73 NSW emergency specialists will be deployed to New Zealand following the 6.3 magnitude earthquake this morning.

Twelve personnel and equipment will leave for New Zealand tonight.

The remaining 61 personnel will depart on Wednesday morning.

Premier Keneally said the NSW Government would make all necessary assistance available to help the people of Christchurch.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Christchurch and New Zealand at this difficult time," Ms Keneally said.

"These NSW emergency personnel are ready to offer assistance to Christchurch authorities as they respond to this devastating earthquake."

The taskforce comprises:

  • 52 personnel from Fire and Rescue NSW;
  • Nine SCAT paramedics from the Ambulance Service of NSW;
  • Two doctors from NSW Health;
  • Two NSW Police Force officers including a victim identification specialist;
  • Four Department of Services, Technology and Administration engineers; and
  • Four ACT firefighters.

"The USAR taskforce, led by Fire and Rescue NSW, is a team of 73 specialists in fire and rescue, building engineering, trauma medicine and hazardous materials," Ms Keneally said.

"The team of 73 specialists in fire and rescue, building engineering, trauma medicine and hazardous materials will deploy with heavy rescue equipment and food, tents and drinking water to allow them to be self-sustainable for up to 10 days."

Fire and Rescue NSW Commissioner Greg Mullins said the USAR taskforce had responded to several major international and Australian emergencies in recent years.

"Our expertise is recognised by the United Nations and most recently, our urban search and rescue crews joined the response to the Queensland flood emergency in January," he said.

"We are well prepared and equipped to assist our emergency services colleagues in New Zealand during this disaster."

Anyone concerned about Australians in Christchurch should try to contact them directly in the first instance. If this is unsuccessful, please contact the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.