Reflections on the Christchurch earthquake

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Abstract

Background and Objectives

The city of Christchurch in New Zealand suffered a series of major earthquakes during 2010 and 2011. These resulted in significant damage and loss of life. The impact of the earthquakes on New Zealand Blood Service is reviewed in the context of emergency planning and preparedness.

Impact assessment

The requirement for blood and blood components was low and easily met from within existing stocks. The anticipated influx of donors was well managed avoiding unnecessary build-up of blood components and consequent wastage. The Christchurch Blood Centre was closed for a number of days following each major event. Contingency arrangements for supply to Christchurch and other hospitals in the region were successfully implemented.

Conclusions

Pre-existing emergency plans are an essential component of emergency preparedness. These must however be flexible to respond to rapidly changing situations. The blood service plan must be integrated into regional and national response plans. Access to timely and accurate information is an important contributor to effective management.

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