Wellington’s recent earthquakes

Hearing that Wellington (on the north island on New Zealand)  had been struck by an earthquake of 6.8 magnitude, just weeks after being shaken by a 6.5 magnitude earthquake, has me thinking that ‘injury prevention’ is so much more broad in scope than perhaps I had previously realised.

Having visited Wellington in October 2012, I am familiar with the ‘yellow stickers’ which advise that the labelled building should not be considered structurally-sound and able to protect the occupants in the event of an earthquake. Not so great news when this is your workplace, and you are at work when an earthquake strikes! A systemic approach to injury prevention needs to consider risks which can be generated by the immediate environs, and the need for earthquake-resilient buildings certainly is applicable in any region vulnerable to such tectonic movements.

In both instances, the train network was cut, which has implications for injury prevention also. Many commuters were stranded within the city, meaning alternative methods of transport were required. Crowded streets can also hinder emergency efforts, and harm minimisation efforts which complement injury prevention can be negatively affected.

Two and a half years after the earthquake in Christchurch (on the south island of New Zealand), many residents are still living with depression and anxiety. Injury prevention and harm minimisation efforts need to consider the breadth of harms like psychological injury – in addition to the more-widely recognised physiological harms.

Read more about the most recent quake at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-08-16/earthquake-strikes-south-of-wellington-nz/4892248?section=australianetworknews

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