We can’t predict when emergencies will happen.
Aotearoa New Zealand is particularly prone to natural emergencies – earthquakes, severe weather, and floods. On top of that, an early childcare centre has additional health and safety concerns that they need to be prepared for, such as medical emergencies, fire evacuations, and security threats.
There have been a series of health and safety related events around the country in recent years that have involved or impacted early childhood centres. This includes incidences of violence from children, children choking on food at mealtimes, and the recent terror attacks in Christchurch, which forced schools into lockdown and has prompted a review of lockdown guidance by the Ministry of Education.
So the question needs to be asked, how far away are your emergency services?
Many schools and education centres in Aotearoa are in small rural towns, making them more isolated and further away from the assistance of emergency services. But isolation is not the only problem, centres in main cities can struggle with access for first responders too, as traffic and congestion problems continue to worsen around the country.
Another reality to contend with is that many of our emergency services are under funded and under resourced. Most of our first response fire and ambulance services around the country are volunteer or charity based. They do not have significant (or in some places any) government funding to help with the operational costs.
There has been a lot of public discussion recently about the need for more financial assistance for
these essential services, to ensure they can continue to operate.
Emergency Services And Your Centre
With all of this in mind, how can you best prepare your childcare centre for when emergency services are too far away, or not immediately available?
Firstly, it is worth doing a bit of homework about your local area and the availability of first responders. Map out how far away your closest fire, ambulance, and police services are. Estimate how many minutes it might take for them to get to you. You could even drive the most direct route they might take and time how long it takes. Consider the times of the day where traffic might be worse, which could slow an emergency response down.
Much of your emergency preparedness is part of regulations and compliance for childcare centres, but it is essential to check that everything is maintained and up to date. This includes:
First aid training for all staff members
Emergency policies in place and staff trained accordingly
Contingency plans for medical events if ambulances aren’t available e.g. staff members with drivers licences and vehicles
Practising fire, earthquake, and lockdown drills regularly to help children get more familiar with procedures
How SafetyNest Can Help
Being properly prepared for emergencies is an absolute must. Our cloud based software is packed full of features to help you manage health and safety at your early childhood centre. SafetyNest can get you emergency-ready by:
Guiding you through the compliance process for NZ government requirements
Reporting on upcoming training expirations for staff
Supporting the health and safety management of multiple locations, with separate staff and hazards
SafetyNest gets health and safety done easily, quickly, and correctly! It prevents you from having to stress about preparing for emergency situations.