Procedure should not beat principle

March 4th, 2011 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Michael Field at Stuff reports:

Prime Minister John Key has spoken to his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu after claims an Israeli search and rescue team was refused entry to Christchurch’s inner-city cordon.

Earlier today, the Government rejected Israeli media reports that Wellington refused Israel’s offer to send a search and rescue team to Christchurch after the .

Key said this afternoon the Israelis were not part of a United Nations-accredited team.

The Government had received a wide range of offers of help but had not accepted all of them because there were enough people on the ground, he said. …

“I understand that private search experts retained by families of missing Israeli citizens presented to officials in Christchurch.

“Civil Defence requirements for (Urban Search and Rescue) teams were that they be self-deploying, self-sustaining and United Nations-accredited.

“Civil Defence officials therefore declined the private Israeli offer, and other similar non-accredited offers of assistance.”

Civil Defence have an incredibly hard job coping with a disaster of this magnitude, and generally are doing very well. However in this case, I believe it is highly regrettable that procedure won out over common sense.

As a disclosure, one of the dead Israelis is a close friend of one of my good Israeli friends – in fact the person who hosted me in Israel in November 2009. He approached me for assistance in getting a favourable decision made on getting the Israeli team admitted, and I put them in touch with the appropriate MFAT officials. I have no criticism of the MFAT officials who were very responsive and helpful, my criticism is of the ultimate decision maker, which I presume is someone in Civil Defence.

Now it is correct that this search and rescue team did not meet the official criteria of being an official Governmental team, accredited with the United Nations. It was a private team (however the Israeli Government was in full support of the team being admitted). So in terms of ticking all the boxes, it didn’t qualify.

But I think some common sense would have been useful. I would have asked the question – what’s the worst thing that could happen by allowing this team to join the other s&r teams, and consider the emotional damage caused by excluding a team that is already in Christchurch and ready and waiting to go into action.

The team was commissioned by one of the fathers of the (now known to be dead) Israelis. He paid for them at his own expense and rushed them out to NZ to maximise any chance of his son being found alive. It might only be a small fractional improvement in the odds, but it was better than doing nothing. It gave comfort that they were doing everything they possibly could. And they were accepting that this would not be some rogue team only searching for the Israelis – they were totally happy to work where-ever directed to by Civil Defence.

Now one reason you might want to exclude a private team, is if they were, well basically amateurs, who might be a risk to themselves or others.  I’ve seen the backgrounds to the team members, and they are the exact opposite of amateurs – we’ve talking team members who have huge experience in search and rescue in earthquakes, and other situations.

The team leader was Hilik Magnus. Here is an extract from his website:

Over the last 17 years, Hilik has led numerous search parties, locating and rescuing hundreds of travelers of different nationalities, mainly in the Far East and South America. Over the years, he has built a unique network of contacts with authorities and private organizations across the world, advised foreign governments and security forces, and assisted thousands of families in receiving information regarding their loved ones. In Israel he has earned the unofficial title of “the national rescuer.”

Hilik has trained a team of rescue experts with specialist skills on constant alert and still leads most of the search parties himself. Over the years, the company’s capabilities expanded to include legal aid, hostage negotiation and disaster relief. Magnus teams were among the first international rescue groups to reach the stricken coastal areas of Thailand following the 2004 Tsunami disaster and in recent years are at the forefront of intervention and rehabilitation in cases of substance abuse crises overseas.

Sounds rather capable I have to say. There are numerous testaments to their effectiveness, including a recent one from NZ, as reported in 2008 in the NZ Herald:

Tas, a 26-year-old media studies student, was here to help with the search for his missing sister, 35-year-old Liat Okin, who was last seen alive leaving a hut on the Routeburn Track late on the morning of March 26, in jeans and sneakers.

Joining the search was crack Israeli search-and-rescue expert Hilik Magnus, hired by Okin’s family to continue with a private search after he had finished with the official police search.

When that search was suspended on April 22, Magnus led the private search in what was at times inhospitable terrain surrounding the Routeburn Track. …

And they found the body, which the official s&r had failed to do. But even then, he was not big noting:

He is emphatic in his praise for the police, DOC and local volunteers who formed part of his search team. “I have never seen a team working as well as the local team. We have a lot to learn from them, how well organised and managed they were.”

Local support was outstanding, he says. The team, from six to 16-strong, at times included police search-and-rescue members, a dog handler and locals with knowledge of the Routeburn area, which straddles Fiordland and Mt Aspiring National Parks.

Even though the area where the body was found had been covered in the police search, police efforts, led by Senior Sergeant John Fookes, should not be undervalued says Magnus. “It’s a very cruel job: you are judged only by the results. People should understand that finding at the end, it is the outcome of a lot of invested days of search and you need a bit of luck. Because if we passed two metres, or half a metre away, we haven’t got the view of this backpack and we would have missed it.”

I think admitting the team lead by Magnus should have been a no brainer.

They were in Christchurch within a couple of days of the quake, but were never allowed to assist because they are not on some UN approved list. I really think it was a bad decision.

The young Israelis killed in the quake died instantly, it transpires, and letting the private team in would not have changed that. But it would have given greater comfort and solace to a worried and grieving family on the other side of the world that they had done everything they could to find their son. Instead they spend several days of battling bureaucracy, and having to even get the Israeli Prime Minister involved in their efforts.

I hope in future disasters, consideration is given to a more flexible approach. If there is to be a Commission of Inquiry into the earthquake, this is one (of many) issues that could be considered.

Tags: ,

61 Responses to “Procedure should not beat principle”

  1. david (2,482 comments) says:

    While my initial reaction was to support your thesis David, on reflection it was really the only course of action CD could have taken. It would be a recipe for chaos if you had groups chasing all over a disaster zone on the trail of a specific person or two while S&R teams were concentration on places. If the Israeli team was offering to join the S&R effort and to undertake whetever roles they were tasked with then you might have a case but their obfjectives were specific and would have cut right across the search patterns and procedures that were being undertaken by the “official” USAR teams.

    [DPF: The Israeli team was willing to join the S&R effort and to undertake whatever roles they were tasked with. I specifically confirmed that with the father. They hoped that they would be assigned to an area where the Israelis were thought more likely to be (as the Japanese S&R team was assigned to the area where the Japanese students were), but they were definitely willing to go anywhere - and hopefully help rescue anyone needing rescue regardless of nationality]

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  2. Manolo (12,622 comments) says:

    Key said this afternoon the Israelis were not part of a United Nations-accredited team.

    Since when the useless UN has jurisdiction on this matter? Absolute rubbish decision.

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  3. andrei (2,429 comments) says:

    But I think some common sense would have been useful. I would have asked the question – what’s the worst thing that could happen by allowing this team to join the other s&r teams, and consider the emotional damage caused by excluding a team that is already in Christchurch and ready and waiting to go into action.

    I disagree – the UN approval of teams means that they have a common training and set of working protocols which means they can work together with confidence regardless of where they come from.

    Without that confidence there is a high probability some teams could well be more trouble than they are worth and there isn’t time to evaluate them on a case by case basis.

    I understand there is some Israeli assistance with the victim identification process – another task which has UN protocols surrounding it.

    [DPF: The UN does not train the teams. They don't even approve them. And they do not set common protocols. As far as I can tell all the UN does is register them when a national government asks them to do so.

    The Israeli team has worked with dozens and dozens of national Governments around the world. They are not some bumbling amateur operation.

    As far as I can tell the only reason they were declined is because they are Government endorsed rather than Government run]

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  4. marcw (206 comments) says:

    Regretably (and it’s hard to be critical of the police and CD at this time) there have been a lot of irrational and stupid decisions made over the last 10 days. Not releasing the number known to be dead in the mortuary (because they hadn’t been identified) in the first few days, and not allowing accompanied business people into undamaged or lightly damaged buildings to retrieve essential equipment and files this week would have to be on top of the list. Also, you can include not delivering portaloos promply to the most damaged residential areas first – their advice had been to dig holes into flooded ground to bury waste. Typically, a truck belonging to a business that was parked in Hagley park at the Flower Show site (that was safe enough to house evacuees and a welfare centre) was not allowed to be retrieved – even though it could be seen from the nearby road and could be easily driven out the gate. I’m sorry but my opinion that the police culture now is more of self interest in correctness and butt covering has been proven completely.

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  5. noj (29 comments) says:

    Based on my experience with USAR the key point is not who they were or where they come from it is, as quoted self-deploying, self-sustaining

    The key difference is when you accept a USAR team all you need to provide is a place for them to setup. They come with food, water, toilets etc. Also support staff, uniforms and equipment.

    A team of search experts is probably useful for a day until you have to feed them and house them in a disaster area.

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  6. davidp (3,319 comments) says:

    I believe the accreditation processes mean that teams are working to common international standards and procedures. A private team presumably works to their own standards and procedures which may or may not match those used by all the other teams. While I think it is tempting to let groups of unaccredited people join in rescue efforts, it creates the potential to distract the rescue coordinators by causing them to have to evaluate the new team’s training and procedures, to have to coordinate their activities, and to rescue them if they turn out to be not as professional as expected.

    It also creates the potential for any group of semi-qualified amateurs to offer their services and gain access to damaged buildings. Organised construction workers, West Coasters with cars full of weapons, and people who were keen to rush in to the Pike River Mine for instance.

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  7. NeutralObserver (91 comments) says:

    I suspect, and no more, that the lingering after taste of the Israelis illegally obtaining NZ passports for their spies meant there is still a distrust deficit that may have influenced the final decision. Even if subconsciously. NZers are slow to bury the hatchet when our pride is offended.

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  8. david (2,482 comments) says:

    Thanks for the clarification David

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  9. RRM (8,988 comments) says:

    I am quite sure that the I stand with Israel type people will be along to make this all about anti-semitism in due course.

    But in the meantime, since we don’t actually know whether or not the USAR people on the ground had a good practical operational reason for deciding to keep the Israel team out; should we assume that they did, or should we assume that they are idiots?

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  10. davidp (3,319 comments) says:

    NeutralObserver>I suspect, and no more, that the lingering after taste of the Israelis illegally obtaining NZ passports for their spies meant there is still a distrust deficit that may have influenced the final decision.

    Israel has teams in Christchurch helping with victim identification tasks. I think if the NZ government wanted to send a passport related message then they would have refused Israeli government assistance.

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  11. kino flo (81 comments) says:

    A Mexican team of urban search and rescue experts have had the same problem. Again, they’re not UN accredited, so have been reduced to picking up fallen fences in the suburbs. They brought their own cadaver dogs (still in quarantine), and have had considerable experience in large building rescues in places like Haiti.

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  12. Bevan (3,965 comments) says:

    I am quite sure that the I stand with Israel type people will be along to make this all about anti-semitism in due course.

    And I’m sure the anti-anything Israel morons will be too….

    Oh wait – your already here!

    If you want to answer the question of anti israel vs stupid bureaucratic procedure, then look at the other National teams that were sent to help – in particular the team from Taiwan. Considering China vetoes everything regarding Taiwan, it would be interesting to find out if they are accredited.

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  13. Nigel (503 comments) says:

    A very difficult situation, but in the circumstances I am on the side of CD, sorry but I just don’t believe they had the time to certify these people, nor indeed should have they been expected to.

    It’s one thing something like Pike Creek, but chch is a operation of such scale that I having people around not working with in the same framework is not worth it.

    My last thought, if this team was so professional, I would have thought they would have known about the UN accreditation and made damn sure they were accredited for going into a situation such as this, it does not really reflect well on the teams professionalism IMHO.

    [DPF: They are a provate sector team. They are not eligible for UN accreditiation. Don't denigrate people out of ignornance on your part]

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  14. RRM (8,988 comments) says:

    If you want to answer the question of anti israel vs stupid bureaucratic procedure, then look at the other National teams that were sent to help

    Like I said.

    You have no idea why the USAR controllers barred the Israeli team from site, DPF doesn’t know and I don’t know either. But because you see the word “Israel” involved, somehow you immediately conclude it’s all about entrenched anti-Israeli feeling.

    And I’m sure the anti-anything Israel morons will be too….

    Oh wait – your already here!

    Don’t be a complete dick, you should be able to see I haven’t said anything “anti Israel”…

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  15. JC (838 comments) says:

    Remember Haiti, where private Christian groups went down to “rescue” children, and the shit storm that caused?

    It wasn’t that they were Christians, it was they were there on their own mission in a private capacity. The Israelis fall into a similar category despite the credentials.

    JC

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  16. anonymouse (651 comments) says:

    USAR teams can come from the Moon for all I care, and whether they are UN accredited is neither here nor there, but the criteria that I think all must adhere to is

    self-deploying and self-sustaining >/i>

    Otherwise they simply place a burden on the place they are working in to feed, house and sustain them.

    [DPF: I've not heard any suggestion they are not self-deploying and self-sustaining - just that they were not on the UN list]

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  17. berend (1,600 comments) says:

    DPF: but were never allowed to assist because they are not on some UN approved list.

    Well, that sums up NZ and John Key perfectly.

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  18. davidp (3,319 comments) says:

    DPF> They are a provate sector team. They are not eligible for UN accreditiation.

    I think you’re wrong. NZ’s task forces are operated by a variety of organisations including VUW and the Red Cross. If NZ wanted to bring one or two of our existing teams up to an international standard and get them accredited (and I think we should spend the money and do so… we owe the world one now) then it doesn’t matter if the team is operated by the government, an NGO, or a private organisation. All the government has to do is endorse the team.

    For instance, a quick search suggests that these guys are a UK based charity:

    “Our members have over 20 years experience in disaster rescue work and are amongst the most experienced disaster response personnel in the UK. RAPID UK is a UK representative of, and accredited to, the United Nations International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG). ”

    http://www.rapiduk.org.uk

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  19. davidp (3,319 comments) says:

    This seems to be a list of all the internationally accredited teams:

    http://vosocc.unocha.org/USAR_Directory/MemberCountriesOverview.asp

    Many will be familiar to Cantabrians: LA County FD, NSW, Queensland, Singapore, Japan etc.

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  20. Nigel (503 comments) says:

    Ignorance, mmm, of the details definitely, but I’m not ignorant of that fact that they turned up without checking what assistance NZ USAR would accept from their team, that is pretty damn obvious from their reaction.

    I’m sorry a commercial transaction where you take someones money without making that check or working with your local govt to smooth that path is just not right in my book, no matter how experienced you are, actually being heavily experienced makes it worse, because they should have known better.

    [DPF: You're being pathethic and an arm chair critic. Given a choice between saty at home, ring NZ and don;t get anyone out there until we get a response means they may lose a critical day or two. It was definitely the right call to get out there asap, so if permission was granted, they could start immediately. Private teams and public teams operate differently]

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  21. mjwilknz (606 comments) says:

    I disagree with you on this one, DPF. Procedure reflects principle, but, in any individual situation, I think it should always come first! If you are upset about the procedures we have in some situation, surely the first step is to change the procedures, not to abandon them willy-nilly. Doing that risks looking arbitrary and makes any procedure we have look like a joke. Surely we are more dignified than that.

    My condolences to you and your Israeli friends.

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  22. georgebolwing (493 comments) says:

    You are a stressed CD official, facing a massive disaster, with the world’s media and every blogger and blog-commentator second-guessing every move you make.

    A private firm of searchers asks to come and help find the nationals of a specific country.

    They don’t meet all the criteria on your list.

    Do you (a) say no and move on to the next of the 647 other life and death decisions you are facing or (b) decide that right now is the time to throw out the manual and start making-up the rules as you go?

    Full marks for the CD guys for doing it right.

    DFP: in situations like this, following the rules is the common sense thing to do.

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  23. mjwilknz (606 comments) says:

    georgebolwing, I agree. This is not Lord of the Flies. Without due process, we abandon procedures at our peril.

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  24. hmmokrightitis (1,458 comments) says:

    Assumptions galore. The team would have known they would not have access to ‘the zone’, even before they got on the plane to come here – that is common knowledge. This isnt Haiti, its NZ. With no accreditation they have no credibility in a situation where accreditation is the difference between some numpty and his mates ‘having a crack’ and the experts.

    Yes, immediately after, there is a place for average joe to have a go – but when sanity prevails, its time for the experts – all credit to money bags in Israel for digging deep, but for me the fault lies with the team – they KNEW before they got on the plane, that they would most likely, on the balance of probability, not be allowed in. End of story.

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  25. Bevan (3,965 comments) says:

    You have no idea why the USAR controllers barred the Israeli team from site, DPF doesn’t know and I don’t know either.

    Exaectly, which is why I said to look at the other teams that were sent, were all of the teams that were allowed to assist UN accredited or not. If not, then the question of why not the Israelis is valid. If there have been no non-accredited teams then it will not be. But seeing that a Mexican team that was not accredited was also barred from assisting in the main recovery effort on the grounds that they were not UN accredited then claims of an anti-israel bias would be unfounded.

    But because you see the word “Israel” involved, somehow you immediately conclude it’s all about entrenched anti-Israeli feeling.

    No, I have not instantly jumped in an claimed its an anti-Israel thing. I’m quite sure I used English earlier.

    Don’t be a complete dick, you should be able to see I haven’t said anything “anti Israel”…

    Even a completely blind moron could see you were throwing a bait for the pro-Israel posters to jump onto.

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  26. david (2,482 comments) says:

    Nevertheless it will be a legitimate question in the cold hard light of hindsight to ask if the UN creditation criterion actually contributes to teh quality of the rescue effort.

    It may well be that there are also other factors at play but at an individual level it would make sense to provide for experienced volunteers to be attached to USAR teams like that bloke from Westport obviously was at a time when shortage of manpower was a major concern. What wasn’t needed, and I suspect part of the policy is to prevent exactly this, is Red Adair swooping in and trying to take charge when you are attempting to firstly find out how big the problem is and secondly formulate a sustainable plan of attack.

    I’m not suggesting this was the case and dpf’s added comments very much suggest that it wasn’t

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  27. Bevan (3,965 comments) says:

    Nevertheless it will be a legitimate question in the cold hard light of hindsight to ask if the UN creditation criterion actually contributes to teh quality of the rescue effort.

    Good point, I wonder considering the numerous Civil Defense emergencies that have impacted the world over the last few years, how worthwhile it would be to have multi-national CD emergency exercises similar to how a number of countries conduct military exercises. Would be far better to have nations that no how to work together, instead of just accepting that the UN has accredited them.

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  28. davidp (3,319 comments) says:

    david>it would make sense to provide for experienced volunteers to be attached to USAR teams like that bloke from Westport obviously was at a time when shortage of manpower was a major concern

    Note that the Westport bloke wasn’t an “experienced volunteer” but a Walter Mitty type who made his own uniform, put a logo on his car, claimed to have experience he didn’t, got in the way, and had to be arrested after proving to be a danger to others. Oh, and he had a boot full of weapons after not learning his lesson from a previous firearms charge.

    bevan>Would be far better to have nations that no how to work together, instead of just accepting that the UN has accredited them.

    The UN group (actually a multi-national group called INSARAG) attempts to achieve these common standards to allow interoperability. You can download a few hundred pages of guidelines here:

    http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/lib.nsf/db900SID/SSHN-78WLQU?OpenDocument

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  29. scrubone (2,971 comments) says:

    I’m inclined to give those in charge a bit of leeway in situations like this. In every single disaster I have ever heard of you hear this sort of thing.

    Stuff is chaotic, mistakes are made, things aren’t perfect. Hint: there’s a reason they’re called disasters.

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  30. bereal (3,137 comments) says:

    This whole matter is regretable and a no win all round.
    Maybe if the Israeli team had understood that we are a country ruled by political correctnes
    and not able to make any call not sanctioned by the United Nations they would have realised
    that they needed ‘permission’ before being ‘allowed’ to assist.
    Thankyou legacy of Helen Clark.

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  31. TripeWryter (715 comments) says:

    Much as it grates (about slavish adherence to procedure), I go along with the NZ CD position on this.

    They are the ones with the authority and the responsibility for how things are done in this situation.

    That’s the crux of it.

    The Israeli searchers could have saved themselves bother by checking with NZ CD authorities before they left home. Presumably authorities in these matters don’t permit private, specific search-and-recovery efforts because they’re not part of the whole effort, which someone has to direct and control. Freelancers can’t be permitted. That’s what they were.

    What would the Israeli team have done if they had found the bodies of the young men? Turned them over to the coroners so they can go through their processes to properly identify them, like they’re having to do with the rest of the victims? Or would they have taken them straight out to the airport and flown them home?

    This is a distressing time for the Levy and Ingel families. Their distress might have been lessened if someone in Israel had properly checked with the proper NZ authorities in this matter on whether they could do what they were proposing.

    Unfortunately, the Israelis came across as arrogant.

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  32. Chuck Bird (4,403 comments) says:

    I wonder if the disaster was ten times as bad if CD would turn away a US nuclear powered aircraft carrier that could treat the wounded.

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  33. big bruv (12,348 comments) says:

    bereal nails it.

    This is nothing more than PC bullshit, had this team said ‘we are only going to look for these two men’ then we would have been within our rights to tell them to fuck off, clearly that was not the case.

    And let’s be honest, one or two days after the quake we needed every USAR team we could get out hands on, the yanks did not arrive as fast as the Israelis, nor did the Brits.

    Oh…as for the UN ‘list’, well this is just another reason to tell the UN to go and get stuffed.

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  34. davidp (3,319 comments) says:

    bereal>Maybe if the Israeli team had understood that we are a country ruled by political correctnes and not able to make any call not sanctioned by the United Nations they would have realised that they needed ‘permission’ before being ‘allowed’ to assist.

    What a load of tosh!

    Think of the military where all the western forces work together to develop common doctrine and logistics of the type that allows NZ, Australia, and Portugal to operate together reasonably seamlessly in East Timor. And then a group of guys with some sort of military experience turn up with their own guns and ask to join in. Would you decline their offer, or would you decide that “the more the merrier” overrides doctrine and common standards and invite them to handle your reconnaissance?

    I’d send them home. But that would probably see some nutbar decide I was politically correct. And then his mate would join in to say that NATO and ANZUS and their lists of common standards can get stuffed.

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  35. bereal (3,137 comments) says:

    Jeez, the extent that this country is fucked up is illustrated by this moron TripeWryter.
    This moron embarrasses me with the one purile line, “the Israeli searchers could have saved themselves
    the bother………”
    And even more fucking disgusting, ” the Iraelis came across as arrogant.”
    These people flew around the globe to help us and a piece of shit TripeWryter says they could have
    saved themselves the bother.
    i just want to puke.

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  36. Bevan (3,965 comments) says:

    I wonder if the disaster was ten times as bad if CD would turn away a US nuclear powered aircraft carrier that could treat the wounded.

    Something tells me the Yanks would send one of the non nuclear Amphibious Assault vessels – something with far more rotary airlift capability, roll on/off, sea born deployment to shore, far bigger cargo capacity – and a hospital just as big as any Air Craft carrier as well.

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  37. bereal (3,137 comments) says:

    davidp, you are just as sick as TrypeWryter.
    If you think your analogy has anything to do with the subject at hand you are one sick fuck.
    You have no idea at all you moron.
    Next time you need any help from me i’ll have to wait untill i get the OK from the United Nations.
    What a PC moron you are.
    These people got on a plane and came to help us without getting, ‘permission’
    They didn’t wait. They just did it.
    Shitheads like you will never understand.

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  38. TripeWryter (715 comments) says:

    Breal:

    Puke away …

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  39. grumpyoldhori (2,410 comments) says:

    It seems some are in favour of allowing private profit making teams who do not have the proper accreditation into the country.
    So do we allow only one team in, or do we make it open slather for private teams from all over the world to rush into NZ regardless of the numbers parents want to send ?
    We should house, water and feed them if they need it ?

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  40. MT_Tinman (2,790 comments) says:

    I can’t understand why the Israelis didn’t just grab themselves a couple of their NZ passports and go in as a local search team.

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  41. Jim (34 comments) says:

    In times of emergency, there is a trade-off between decisiveness and additional deliberation and flexibility.

    That decisiveness is the purpose of emergency powers. To allow of few people to make quick decisions based on limited information. The time of these emergency controllers is precious.

    Sticking to a rule such as UN rules about accreditation saves time of busy people.

    An attempt to get around this rule has taken time of people as high as the PM.

    Remember Richard Epstein’s maxim about the need for simple rules in a complex world

    Right now, and certainly last week, plenty of people wanted to get through to the cordon for a few minutes to check their homes and retrieve business records and hard drives. Now think of what resources would be required to hear case-by-case applications for passes and providing excorts over a simple rule of no admittance past the CBD cordons.

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  42. bereal (3,137 comments) says:

    TripeWryter, now you’ve had a moment to reflect, dont you make yourself sick ?
    If you have anything about yourself other than blindless political correct brainwashing,
    (probably picked up at Waikato uni) you would apologise. Even a poor shithead like
    you must have enough nouce to realise you have missed the point completely.
    i feel sorry for you .

    [DPF: 20 demerits as this is just an comment full of abuse. Attack the comment, not the person making it]

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  43. big bruv (12,348 comments) says:

    Since when has sticking to UN rules saved anything?

    Certainly not lives.

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  44. Jim (34 comments) says:

    big bruv, thanks for your comment.

    I have no information about the UN rules, but time is short and what time there is s better spend on matters other than evaluating the competency of would be private rescue groups. quicker to deal with those are accredited.

    Instead of sending people, why not send equipment and cash?

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  45. davidp (3,319 comments) says:

    bereal>Next time you need any help from me i’ll have to wait untill i get the OK from the United Nations.

    The UN weren’t in any position to either approve or not approve rescue teams to operate in NZ, because the UN weren’t involved in any operational decisions in Christchurch. It was the NZ CDEM authorities choosing to only accept assistance from teams who had an endorsed set of common processes and standards. Which was a sensible decision.

    What I’ve just told you has been discussed by dozens of commenters here, complete with links that provide hundreds of pages of explanatory background. If you’d taken even 30 seconds to research the issue then you would have understood that your position was bat shit crazy and you could have avoided turning yourself in to Kiwiblog’s village idiot. So I assume that you’ve decided to beclown on purpose. Why? Is the very mention of the UN enough to turn you in to a red faced frothy mouthed moonbat banging on about “political correctness” without any regard to the normal logic that most people rely on?

    For the record… I’d like to make it publicly known that if I’m a victim of a major disaster over the next few weeks, then I’d prefer the Police to let weapons-obsessed design-his-own-uniform West Coast rescue buffoon out of prison to attempt to rescue me rather than allow you anywhere inside the cordon.

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  46. davidp (3,319 comments) says:

    Jim>I have no information about the UN rules

    You’re essentially correct… but there are no “UN rules”. A number of countries have grouped together to develop standards and doctrine for urban search and rescue so that multi-national teams can work together seamlessly. And so that local authorities coordinating rescues will know exactly what rescue teams are capable of and how they will operate without having to take time out to evaluate qualifications, assess team suitability, and let them know how we do things locally. NZ is a member of this group which is known as INSARAG (International Search and Rescue Advisory Group). INSARAG endorses standards-compliant rescue teams, like most of the ones operating in Christchurch at the moment. INSARAG sits under the UN umbrella, similar to the ITU, UPU, and a number of other organisations that need to coordinate international affairs.

    The moonbats here will have you believe that the UN have developed standards that NZ are forced to use, and that they get to decide who is allowed to rescue people in NZ. It’s just too deranged.

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  47. TripeWryter (715 comments) says:

    Breal:

    Once you’ve got rid of your bile (I thought Farrar had rules about personal attacks, but never mind) …

    The issue is authority, and who has it; responsibility, and who has it.

    The Israeli search team were on a private mission. The father of one of the young men organised it and paid for it to find his son and his son’s friend; they were freelancers. An emergency such as at Christchurch cannot be run that way.

    I don’t wish to add to the families’ distress. But if the team had been offered by the Israeli Government and accepted by the New Zealand Government we would not be having this debate. I imagine that the Chinese, Taiwanese, and NSW teams were offered government-to-government, and were put under NZ CD authority and responsibility with their governments’ consent.

    The Israeli team was not offered on that basis. As I read what David Farrar wrote, they tried to come through a side door by approaching him in hopes of getting a favourable decision. The Israeli Government didn’t even offer them. That was the arrogance, I think

    I’m sorry for their loss and distress. I’m a parent, too, and we all dread the thought that one day we might have to bury a child.

    But somebody over in Israel should have been doing some thinking that could have avoided their added distress.

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  48. Gwilly (154 comments) says:

    Obviously a decision made without Key’s knowledge. Someone as politically astute as Key would not make this type of error.

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  49. bereal (3,137 comments) says:

    TripeWryter
    just read the crap you posted @ 8.55

    the help was not offered on terms acceptable to you ?
    they tried to help through a ‘ side door’ (The bastards.)
    you should be ashamed of yourself. read again what you have written and cringe.

    ‘the issue is authority, and who has it ……etc’
    Oh dear, have you just revealed your poor sad sack position, or what ?

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  50. GT (44 comments) says:

    DPF – sorry, but you’re wrong in this one.

    davidp is right that there are existing standards, processes and relationships in place through the INSARAG group. This includes all sorts of weird and wonderful stuff including how Governments are asked (teams don’t self-deploy), what sort of training they have, self-sufficiency and logistics, and even how border crossings are managed. And yes, they already do have exercises, I and quite a few others were involved in Exercise Pegasus in Christchurch in 2004.

    Basically, anyone that doesn’t respect due process and just turns up will get turned away. The fact that these Israelis just turned up uninvited gives you some clue as to how unaware and unprofessional they are. I worked the first 7 days at the Art Gallery following 22 Feb, and there was another group of Mexican rescuers turned away that just turned up to help uninvited. So it wasn’t the Israelis being picked on, but a blanket policy.

    Also, you should add the tag New Zealand Fire Service to your post, as most things that have directly to do with the Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces are managed by NZFS (on behalf of MCDEM). So don’t go blaming Civil Defence, you gotta blame the NZFS as well. I know the NZFS guy that had to turf the Mexicans out – he is a good friend of mine.

    Finally, USAR is quite different from any other search discipline. I don’t give a shit how good someone may be at LandSAR or AlpineSAR, that doesn’t mean they’re much use for UrbanSAR. USAR is very different as it requires a lot of technical skills, and each team is required to have a structural engineer specially trained in collapsed buildings, and many team members with building and construction skills, in addition to experienced rescuers being able to work in confined spaces and a hazardous environment – chemicals, human remains and many other hazards. If a USAR team doesn’t have all these skills, and the supporting equipment, then they aren’t going to be able to do anything more than a light rescue team. I doubt the Israelis had an engineer, any construction equipment, or specialist USAR training, just like the Mexicans didn’t.

    What do I know? Well I’m a Cat 1-R USAR responder – which means I can support a USAR TF (they’re all Cat 2). One of my business partners is one of the specially trained engineers attached to one of the USAR Taskforces, and I know quite a few of the TF personnel and have been involved with them in exercises since years back and since September last year in actual deployments in Christchurch.

    I fully support them blocking the Israelis and Mexicans working in a hazardous environment that they were likely not trained for, nor had the team or supporting logistics to undertake a self-contained USAR operation.

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  51. vto (1,128 comments) says:

    Must be great to have family with such money. Must be great to have contacts within upper rungs of the Israeli govt. Must be great to have contacts within upper rungs of the National govt here.

    So they couldn’t get in to help.

    Neither could hundreds of Christchurch people with loved ones under buildings. Bureaucrats blocked all of us as well.

    Here is a question – has the Pike River accusation been repeated in Christchurch? Has overly-safety conscious NZ culture prevented members of the public getting in there and simply removing bricks etc? How many people who survived the eathquake under buildings etc later died because it took too long to get them out?

    After all, there were no survivors found longer than about 24 hours after the event. This seems well below the average.

    Hard question, but very legitimate.

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  52. Mark53 (12 comments) says:

    Here is the point you are ALL missing:

    The official Government line is:

    “Civil Defence requirements for (Urban Search and Rescue) teams were that they be self-deploying, self-sustaining and United Nations-accredited.

    The reality is that the official Israeli USAR team (UN accredited) was officially offered personally to John Key by Netanyahu in a telephone conversation on the 22nd February. John Key rejected the offer saying that at this stage there was no need:

    “New Zealand rejected an offer of aid from Netanyahu and Lieberman. Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke yesterday with John Key…..Despite the distance, Netanyahu offered to send as much assistance as required in the area of rescue, engineering and medical) to NZ. But Key rejected the offer saying that at this stage there was no need” Source: http://www.israelhayom.co.il/site/newsletter_article.php?id=10209 dated 23 February 2011)

    According to Key, Israel’s highly experienced and rapidly deployable (e.g.Haiti) USAR not needed.

    My view is that Key didn’t want official Israeli USAR teams in NZ because of sensitivity towards our Islamic trading partners, particularly Iran.

    This is particularly disturbing given that some of those buried under the rubble may have still been alive and could have been saved.

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  53. TripeWryter (715 comments) says:

    VTO: > “Neither could hundreds of Christchurch people with loved ones under buildings. Bureaucrats blocked all of us as well.”

    Bang-on.

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  54. djg (72 comments) says:

    Does anyone know if the Isreali team got stuck in and helped in other areas, outside of the cordone, while they waited for the go ahead, like the Mexicans have done?

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  55. Dazzaman (1,114 comments) says:

    Not only the Israeli’s but the Mexicans too. This is the white coat brigade in action…..

    What? No one with enough clout to incorporate these people, who have expertise & experience in these sorts of rescues, into existing “accredited” teams? Nah, bureaucratic nitwits have no scope in their small minds to look outside the bounds of their brief……

    The handling of this and the Mexican rescue team were a bloody disgrace!!

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  56. bereal (3,137 comments) says:

    ‘the white coat brigade’
    Sadly white coaters such as TripeWryter and davidp will have no idea what you are getting at Dazzaman.
    These disciples of political correctness need it right between the eyes. Even then they will refuse to get it.
    Blinded by PC. So sad.

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  57. xy (130 comments) says:

    If you read their website and various google results, it sure sounds like these guys are great at private investigation and tracking down Israeli kids who’re out of the country taking drugs. They absolutely don’t sound like actual technical search and rescue guys – in particular, their main boast seems to be how they have contacts and strings to pull everywhere, which we can see demonstrated in the OP.

    I’m really really sure I don’t want this to be the way that rescue teams are coordinated. I’d love to know how much the parents paid for these guys to fly down, the size of their team, and the amount of kit and support they came with – DPF appears to know?

    Note that Israel *does* have UN-accredited SAR teams available – they went to Haiti. As far as I can tell there’s a huge difference between the IDF SAR teams (Bahad 16, FIRST (http://www.israaid.org.il/member_page.asp?id=6)) and this group, Magnus – and it sounds like Magnus is the one that’s been talking to the media and claiming that *Israel* teams have been denied access.

    (eg
    ‘according to all our news reports (and it has been all in our hebrew news since the earthquake) our specialized S&R team was called to assemble 20 minutes after the earthquake hit, a special plane was ordered, and they were ready to depart 2 hours after the quake hit; they stayed there on standby for two days. The coverage here at least from 24 hours after the earthquake has been all about how NZ refused our help while giving go-aheads to all the other countries who offered and offered much later than we did. Our S&R specialists all speak English.’)

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  58. GT (44 comments) says:

    VTO – “Neither could hundreds of Christchurch people with loved ones under buildings. Bureaucrats blocked all of us as well.”

    Ummm, you do realise that most of the successful rescues undertaken in Christchurch following the earthquake were by fellow citizens in the streets? This is common in all earthquakes as the citizens become the first responders, and it can take up to 72 hours for the international USAR teams to reach a distant country like New Zealand.

    The USAR Taskforces only went in for the technical rescue that is well beyond pulling a sheet of plywood off someone. The situation where your average citizen would have only been risking their own safety – no boots, gloves, helmet or any basic personal protective equipment that may be enough to prevent minor or major injury caused by falling debris from an aftershock.

    The average citizen has a significant role to play in post-earthquake rescue, but it is only in the immediate rescue of easily accessible people (and, sadly, bodies). USAR is still best suited to deal with the longer-term search, and more complex rescue and body recovery operations.

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  59. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    Basically, I trust our CD to make the right call.

    But I do wonder if DPF would have been as outraged if the country involved was Iran?

    And if not, why not?

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  60. KH (686 comments) says:

    DPF has an obvious and consistent bias for all things Israeli.

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  61. MIKEL (1 comment) says:

    Just to make it clear – Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent official offer to send the National USAR Team (with experience of working in many disaster areas, from Armenia in 1988 to Haiti in 2010), but was refused by the NZ authorities. After that families of missing tourists asked some Team’s leading experts to come on a private basis – since EVERYWHERE in the world in disaster area EVERY professional help is welcomed – but still CD chose to stick to their decision – probably to avoid explanation why they refused in the first place.

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