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Registration, Inquiry and Needs Assessment

Each year New Zealand communities are affected by a range of emergencies that cause disruption, dislocation and losses. These vary in scale from house-fires to regionally impacting floods as well as cyclones and earthquakes of various impact.

Although such events may cause destruction to the physical environment, they primarily affect people. Lives are lost, people injured, homes destroyed and families dislocated. The resulting human grief as well as the social and economic disruptions affects the well being of individuals, families and the community as a whole.

In the event of an emergency occurring in a community, family members may become separated. This is particularly true if an emergency event occurs during the day with family members at school, at work, or at home. Separation from loved ones and concern for their well-being can trigger acute reactions of anxiety and fear that would not be relieved until families are reunited or until accurate information is received regarding the condition and whereabouts of loved ones.

An effective registration and inquiry system is a very important component of the total emergency management system. It will play a significant role in a major disaster, when, unless the task is managed efficiently at national, regional and local level there will be confusion and uncertainty which will add significantly to the emergency management workload.

As an addition to the registration and inquiry system, a process of undertaking needs assessments of affected persons is another important part of emergency management, as it enables the needs of those affected to be monitored and met by agencies who have a role in providing recovery from the emergency event.

Download a diagram outlining these functions (pdf 23kB)

Christchurch earthquake PRIDE registrations summary - 28 March 2011
Public Registration and Inquiry Database for Emergencies: Summarised results of registrations from 22 February 2011, at 28 March 2011.
The New Zealand Red Cross has issued a report which presents some higher level findings from the PRIDE database. The report summarises results of a preliminary analysis of registrations of affected people from the 22 February 2011 Christchurch earthquake.
Download the report (pdf 200kB)

Registration is 'the process of recording detailed information on individuals who are affected by an emergency'. It is used in the case of people who have been evacuated, or who self-evacuate and present to services, or whom later present to agencies as affected (requiring assistance as a result of an event, eg., lost home, trauma support, lost employment, isolated home, services to home lost) by an emergency event. Registration records the personal details (name, usual address and contacts, current contact details) of disaster-affected people. Local councils usually perform registration as a civil defence welfare function. This process can only capture people who are evacuated by civil defence or other agencies in conjunction with civil defence, or who self-present to civil defence agencies or assisting agencies.

‘Registration’ is an initial contact only. At this stage of an emergency people are often distressed and confused – it is inappropriate to ask them for more than their identifying details and they will often have little idea about their situation. More detailed information collection from people (such as needs assessments) will take place later in an event – if and when will depend on the nature, scale and severity of the event and the capacity of the responding agencies. If people present as affected at a later stage of an event (for example during recovery), they can be registered and have needs assessments taken at the same time. This is not appropriate during the response phase.

Detailed information about the Registration function, including objectives and responsibilities, can be found in the Guide to the National Civil Defence Emergency Management Plan, 2006 - Section 12.8.2, Function: Registration (pdf)

Inquiry System
An Inquiry System provides information in response to questions from relatives and friends about the safety and location of people in an emergency affected area.

‘Inquiry’ is the process of using collected information to answer inquiries as to the condition and whereabouts of persons who have been displaced from their homes or affected by an emergency event; with a purpose to assist in reuniting separated family and community members as quickly as conditions permit; or providing information on the welfare of affected persons to family and friends not in the immediate area.

Inquiries are made of a centralised registry or database where information about persons affected by an emergency is collected. General operating procedure for inquiry systems involves people calling in with queries about persons in the affected area. The details of the inquiry are logged and the caller is informed that they will be called when the person is located. Once the inquiry system is able to locate the missing person a connection can be made. People who register can indicate that they do not wish their location details to be passed on to anyone. Inquiry systems in areas where there have been fatalities or serious injuries will operate in conjunction with the Police, who will perform their usual function of notifying relevant people of death or serious injury of an affected person.

Detailed information about the National Inquiry Centre function, including objectives and responsibilities, can be found in the Guide to the National Civil Defence Emergency Management Plan, 2006, Section 12.8.3, Function: National Inquiry Centre (pdf)

Needs assessment
Needs Assessment involves the process of ascertaining the needs (eg, housing, food, clothing, financial, social support or psychological support) of persons affected by an emergency.

‘Needs assessment’ is generally undertaken by providing documentation relating to needs and situation to affected persons and assisting them with filling out documents requesting assistance as required. Where possible an interview may also take place. This process will take place once the immediate response phase of an emergency event is passed. Where and when will depend on the nature, scale and severity of the event and the capacity of the responding agencies.

Detailed information about Needs Assessment, including objectives and responsibilities, can be found in Section 12 of the Guide to the National Civil Defence Emergency Management Plan, 2006, Section 12.8.4, Function: Needs assessment (pdf)

Recovery needs form
A nationally standardised and agreed Recovery Needs Form has been developed by the National Welfare Recovery Coordination Group. Delivery of recovery needs forms to affected persons will be coordinated as per the Local or Group Welfare Plan. Relevant government agencies will assist.

Download the National Standard Recovery Needs Form in either PDF format
or alternatively, download a Word version to customise the form