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There in times of crisis

Police Association staff know what exhaustion looks like. They’ve seen the “zombie look” on the faces of the Police staff who have been working tirelessly in Christchurch in the past few weeks.

Photo: Police escort people from the scene. Photo: STUFF/THE PRESS

There have been some extraordinarily long shifts being worked by members, 18-20 hours in some cases, and sometimes, day after day. Association staff in Christchurch have been making contact with members at police cordons and liaising with Police bosses and members’ families, seeing where they can plug any gaps in welfare for our members.

The advice to those who might be struggling has been to forget about the bigger picture and focus on the small things to get through each shift and each day.

And it’s not only the needs of the frontline that have to be considered. Comms, victim support, the DVI and antemortem teams, to name a few, have all been in the thick of it – and behaved heroically.

Sometimes, members have needed to take a break or talk to a psychologist. At other times, they have just needed a hug and a cup of coffee.

The pressure has been full-on for members – dealing with the public and families and the sheer awfulness of the situation. It’s in crisis situations such as this that the association is able to add value.

Welfare Fund manager Pete Hayes says the association knew it had to get support people on the ground quickly.

“We learnt from other serious incidents, such as the Bali bombings, Operation Phuket [in the aftermath of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami], the Victoria fires in Australia and the Canterbury earthquakes, that it is important to be there for members who are facing the most horrendous scenes, and to have the right people on hand, such as psychologists.”

In the longer term, he says, plans are under way for a structured and appropriate response for all members involved in this horrific event. That will include ensuring members can get a break away with their families at a time that suits them.

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