CD test causes confusion


SIRENS sounding continuously on Monday in the Eastern Bay created confusion and even panic for some people who were unaware it was a civil defence test.

Several people reported they did not know that the sirens were for and some said they had fielded panicky queries from shop customers, ending up calling Radio 1XX who told them it was only a test.

The Opotiki News and Beacon conducted a four-hour, Instagram-based poll that asked if readers had been notified by text: 25 of the respondents said they hadn’t, while 21 said they had.

Bay of Plenty Emergency Management operational readiness manager Jono Meldrum said only those that were subscribed to the Bay of Plenty text alerting system would have received a text.

A separate, and nation-wide Emergency Mobile Alert system was not used during this test.

Mr Meldrum said the test had been advertised in the Eastern Bay through radio, social media and the Bay of Plenty Civil Defence website.

“The messaging used on Facebook, Twitter, Red Cross Hazards App add the text alert notification also publicised the test,” he said.

“We apologise if some felt they were not forewarned about the test but the reality is people are getting harder and harder to reach.

“Just like how there’s no one fail safe alerting platform that will reach everyone, which is why we use multiple alerting platforms during an event, there’s no one way we can notify the public that we are testing our systems.”

Mr Meldrum said sirens were designed to get people’s attention so they could seek further information.

“They do not mean people should evacuate,” he said.

“We currently test our alert systems twice a year so we can practise our activation procedures and ensure the systems are functioning correctly, but that might change in the future.”

Readers wanting more information about how they can be warned about an event should visit the website.

Text messages

OPERATIONAL readiness manager Jono Meldrum said this particular test did not include Emergency Mobile Alerts.

“This isn’t a subscription-based system like the Bay of Plenty text alert system, instead if you have a phone that is capable of receiving an EMA you’ll receive the alert whether you want to or not,” he said.

“For this reason, the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management only test the EMA system once a year. This reduces disruption to people who do not want to receive the alert.”

Only those that are subscribed to the Bay of Plenty text alerting system would have received a text during yesterday’s test.