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Emergency management

Disaster planning and business continuity in primary care.

Primary care is an essential service that is relied on by the community. Planning ahead for how to continue to provide services during any circumstance is essential; whether it be a disruption to a single organisation (such as a fire) or a wider-scale event that impacts on a whole region (such as an earthquake).

In addition, primary care may experience an increased demand for their services during emergency events, and find they are faced with providing services beyond their ‘business as usual’.

This page includes information on:

  • support and resources to help prepare for an emergency
  • who to coordinate with during a disaster
  • practical tips that will help you keep running in an emergency.


General resources are available for organisations to help plan for emergencies, including resources on the Ministry of Civil Defence Emergency Management website. Wellington City Council also has useful emergency planning resources.

During a disaster

District health boards lead local health planning and response activity and are responsible for working with primary care organisations to ensure that their response is effectively coordinated in an emergency. It is important that there are clear linkages between a DHB Emergency Operations Centre and the primary care sector in an emergency.

DHB Emergency Managers can be contacted via the DHB switchboard or via the Ministry of Health Emergency Management Team.

Practical tips

  • Generators
    • Check the services that would need to run off a generator (vaccine fridge, several computers, ECG) and have an electrician determine the power and cabling requirement.
    • Larger practices will need an electrical engineer to install a socket to route power in from a large generator.
    • Get on the list at a hire company to ensure the correct generator can be obtained in a crisis. Check in with the company annually.
  • Water
    • Install storage tank or pre-arrange hirage of tank and pump.
    • Ensure the hire company knows the practice’s needs.
  • Critical supplies

Business continuity plans for individual practices will include long lists of products, such as:

  • water stored in plastic containers
  • detergent
  • disinfectant
  • radio
  • torches
  • analogue phone
  • extra first-aid type products
  • extra prescription products (consult with practices in neighbourhood to plan stock holdings)
  • plastic bags.


  • Ensure data is backed up daily (eg, onto an external drive that is taken off the premises).
  • Check the ‘restore’ function and currency of the back-up data.
  • Keep hard copies of database of contact persons from all emergency, health and social services in your district, and include names and home phone numbers.


  • Arrange relocation options in case they are needed: one for short term, one for long term.

Find more information about emergency management on the Ministry of Health website