Christchurch earthquake deployment – Day Minus One

What do you pack to travel to an earthquake zone? I hurry home from a relaxing weekend away by the ocean, to a last-minute travel health check and a few hours at home before heading to New Zealand. I have been busy these past two months with Australian disasters. Floods, more floods, cyclones, fires, and yet more floods. My packing has become quicker and tighter every time. Don’t worry about a book or a Walkman: you won’t have time. Only pack one or two non-Red-Cross pieces: you will end up eating dinner in uniform every night in the canteen. Forget about makeup (well, except eye-liner – remember when the Governor-General visited?) and always double-check you have enough hairclips otherwise you will faint in that Brisbane heat.

Other things not to worry about so far: a bed for the night. A shared bathroom. Sweaters and rain jackets.

This time I am not so confident. I am told I will have a bed in a motel, but really? In an earthquake zone? I pack a sleeping bag, inner sheet and carry-mat anyway. And socks to wear when it gets cold. And cover-all pyjamas in case there are communal facilities (or another earthquake in the middle of the night). I carry my trusty Red Cross high-vis jacket and my incident management folder like comfort blankets. Extra medication, thermal vests, teabags, own mug and water-bottle, a Swiss Army knife and at least one torch. I feel like I am going camping again.

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