How to make an emergency call, how to cook at camp and how to carry someone on a stretcher - Durie Hill School students learnt all this and more at a disaster day at their school.

Teacher Shona Buchanan said the school's Year 3 and 4 students were this term learning about natural disasters and how to be prepared.

"So we've invited some of Whanganui's emergency services to talk to the students about their work," Ms Buchanan said.

Staff from Whanganui Fire Service, Urban Search and Rescue, St John Ambulance, Red Cross, Civil Defence and Whanganui Police came to the school on Friday morning to take the students through a rotation of different activities related to natural disasters and other emergencies.

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Ms Buchanan said the school did an emergency day a few years ago, but on a smaller scale.

"We started organising it again this year, and it just grew."

Mike Carson from the Red Cross talks to the Durie Hill School students about responding to natural disasters. Photo/Bevan Conley
Mike Carson from the Red Cross talks to the Durie Hill School students about responding to natural disasters. Photo/Bevan Conley

She said the most likely disaster Durie Hill School students would face was a flood or big earthquake - and they needed to be prepared.

"If there was a flood or an earthquake students could be stranded at school. Most of our students remember the 2015 flood. And we do have a student here who was evacuated out of Christchurch after the 2011 earthquake.

"So this stuff is quite real for them," Ms Buchanan said.

Mike Carson from the Red Cross brought the agency's disaster welfare support unit to the school and spoke to students about the work the Red Cross did during a disaster.

"Some of these students might have had contact with us during the June 2015 floods," he said.

Mr Carson said it was important children knew what to do during an emergency.

"We find that the kids really take it in - and a lot of them go home and take the message to their parents."

Around 11am, the whole school gathered to watch as an Aerowork helicopter, piloted by Dean Lithgow, landed on the playing field with "emergency supplies" for the school.

Mr Lithgow talked to the students about the helicopter and described the sort of work he did during natural disasters.

Students were fascinated by a demonstration of a police dog at work. German shepherd Bax searched for two "missing people" (a teacher and a student) in the school bush. She also showed how she tackled a suspected "criminal" (a member of the Whanganui Fire Service), and even dragged him along the ground.

Durie Hill School students watch as an Aerowork helicopter lands on the school field. Photo/Kylie Hector
Durie Hill School students watch as an Aerowork helicopter lands on the school field. Photo/Kylie Hector

Bax's handler, senior constable Shane Chambers, said he and Bax often visited schools as part of their work.

"It's good for kids to see how police dogs work - they really enjoy it," he said.

Mr Chambers said 8-year-old Bax would retire from active service in a month.

Ms Buchanan said she was thankful for the emergency response staff who donated their time to the school.

"We are really very grateful," she said.