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You may be hearing a lot about the Critical Incident Management Team (CIMT) and wondering who they are and what they do.

The team’s existence stems from an official organisational policy on how we handle critical incidents and emergency events. The team can be called together when any number of incidents occur - from security threats (such as last year’s graduation cancellation) through to severe weather events like floods or earthquakes, and of course our most pressing of current threats, Covid-19.


Can I contact CIMT?

Yes, absolutely!

The email address is a direct line to the CIMT and is checked daily.

CIMT are available as a single source of truth for information, answering questions, supporting worries or improving systems. 

The CIMT also welcome feedback (ideally not in the exact heat of a crisis unfolding!) particularly around communications and the support measures in place - within the boundaries of what the Alert Level restrictions allow us to do at each stage.


Who sits on the CIMT?

CIMT are a group of staff who have been assembled from across OP “who have the training, skills and knowledge required to react effectively during an incident or emergency.” They are responsible for the operational management of the incident in line with the Incident Emergency Management Plan.

The team is currently made up of the following people:  

Critical Incident or Emergency Role

Polytechnic position

Incident Controllers

CEO Megan Gibbons *

DCE People, Culture and Safety - Laura Warren 

Property and Operations Manager

Director: Campus Environment - Tracey Howell (or delegate)

Health and Safety Manager

Director: Health and Safety - James Kerr (or delegate)

Communications and Planning Manager

Director: Marketing, Sales and Communications - Leanne Ross 

Communications Lead - Sharon O’Loughlin **

Recovery Manager

Director: Business Services - Louisa Homersham (or delegate)

Academic Manager

DCE: Learner Experience - Chris Morland

Administration Support

Executive Business Support Partner - Andrea Hessian  (or delegate)

Systems Manager

Chief Information Officer - Steven Turnbull (or delegate)

Learner Services

Director: Learner Services - Brayden Murray  (or delegate)



How often does the CIMT meet?

When an incident isn't unfolding, the CIMT rarely meets, although the Teams channel is always active as we monitor any potential issues emerging nationally.

Whenever it is felt that we need to prepare for a potential event then CIMT is called together by the Incident Controller to plan the organisational approach.


This exact situation happened prior to this lockdown, when the government signalled that a community case would result in an Alert Level 4 lockdown nationwide with less lead-in time than we experienced in 2020.


Background work had also been done following the return from the last lockdown to ensure preparedness, based on learnings from what worked and what caused confusion last year.


What kind of work does the CIMT do?

In the week prior to lockdown, relevant CIMT members began preparing their teams with resources.

A lot of the work we do ends up happening straight after a Government announcement. An example of some of the work the team does in the hours following a press conference like last Tuesday’s looks a bit like this...


CIMT meets via Teams as Government press conferences take place and they agree:

  • The OP approach to announced measures 
  • Learner and staff communications including emergency text system
  • Supporting staff in transit to get home, checking locations of interest against recent travel record, staff and learners being tested/isolating
  • Operating the service desk to accommodate people taking equipment home
  • Immediate measures needed to support academic delivery and learning
  • Immediate measures needed to lockdown other areas of the organisation and support for them to write their stakeholder communications, such as:
    • Catering
    • Te Pā Tauira (student village)
    • Polykids
    • Student Health 
    • Physically locking down campus doors
    • Essential worker Letters of Authority and processes to keep them safe.


CIMT meets via Teams daily (usually in the morning) throughout a lockdown and they agree:

  • Overnight guidance from TEC, Ministry, DHB etc. is analysed for OP approach
  • Answers to new questions and concerns into the Covid-19 email address 
  • IT issues (such as home WiFi or remote system access), equipment needs
  • Learning materials/IT access for learners across all programmes
  • Vulnerable staff or learner issues
  • Contact tracing capabilities and logs for Ministry of Health
  • Organising deep cleans and PPE equipment
  • Setting up hardship funds, creating application process and online systems
  • Media enquiries and any potential reputational risk issues
  • Staff wellbeing advice and learner wellbeing support services
  • Incident and decisions log updated daily 

The team also makes time to plan for movement through further alert levels (Level 3 health and safety protocols, impacts on academic delivery, assessments, etc.)

While there were a lot of great processes designed and communications materials created in 2020, inevitably Government decisions are different this time, and the impact on staff and learners can be individually and collectively different, therefore work goes into meeting current needs.