Myall Way Emergency Planning Group prioritises top dangers

The latest Myall Way Emergency Planning Group meeting brought together locals from across the region, with Local and State Government representatives teleconferencing in (despite the poor signal).

SAFETY and resilience were refocused and spotlighted at the Myall Way Emergency Planning Group (EPG) meeting held at Hawks Nest Community Hall on Thursday, 16 November.

‘Essential communications’, including mobile phone and radios, were identified as top priority, especially in light of the nation-wide Optus network collapse last week.

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Several Bundabah attendees admitted being utterly oblivious to the Optus outage, needing to drive into Tea Gardens to discover why they had no service.

“Bundabah and Pindimar are official ‘blackspot areas’ according to telcos, and in the event of a fire closing the Myall Way between towns, how would they receive any information at all?” Joanne Pearce, head of the Myall Way EPG, pointed out.

Ironically, the poor mobile phone reception at Hawks Nest severely impacted the meeting’s ability to teleconference, with representatives from State Government Emergency Management offices, including Hunter Local Land Services and MidCoast Council, rendering the urgency of the topics discussed as painfully obvious.

“There have been some very productive conversations in Bundabah lately, and the Pindimar/Bundabah communities have taught me about motivating and engaging the community,” Ms Pearce explained.

“This is peak season for Emergency Services, and the EPG wants to know what locals want, and to have more community organisations join us,” Ms Pearce told NOTA.

A new project could see UHF radio setups, wherein, hypothetically, every household would be equipped with a UHF system, a central repeater for the town that can also talk to towers across Port Stephens or further up the highway.

Such units would require independent solar or generator backup power, as the first things to disappear in emergencies are mobile services and electricity.

The EPG is the forefront of local civilian efforts across the Myall Way villages of Tea Gardens, Hawks Nest, Pindimar and Bundabah, and has made great strides in strategies for resilience in the likely event of disaster, including the local Hazard Information magnet cards featured in NOTA a few weeks ago.

By Thomas O’KEEFE

The proposed extent of attention for the Myall Way Emergency Planning Group, from Bundabah to Mungo Brush, and all in between.

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