From the moment the earthquake struck, the calls on the radio never stopped.
“The great earthquake is now over.”
“Looks like it was good in town here.”
“The city is chaotic.”
Then FENZ crews from across Canterbury moved into action.
“Priority message, people have reported a building collapse on Gloucester Street.”
The building collapsed with several traps and injuries. “
“Perhaps 70 people are trapped in the collapse of a multi-storey building.”
Lynn Crosson, duty manager at the Southern Communications Center in the Federal District, says calls have kept coming.
“The calls started coming in, and then I realized this was a completely different fish kettle,” she says.
Then the intensity started to increase.
“We have a death here.”
“Multiple buildings collapsed, several people were trapped.”
“We have a landslide and lose 11 people.”
Croisson and her team did everything they could to help.
“When you get a call about a home fire, you can tell people ‘get out of the house’ and all that. You can’t say the earthquake won’t happen or stop,” she says.
Sometimes all they could do was be a soothing voice at the end of the phone.
Receiving calls from people who were receiving text messages from friends and family saying “I’m stuck in such-and-such building,” and then I can’t get it. “
When Croisson’s 12-hour shift ended, she was able to see the affected city for herself. She hoped things weren’t as bad as they seemed.
“You have to tell yourself it’s real, it’s not a movie scene,” she says. “You have broken cars, collapsed buildings, and curtains flying out of broken windows.”
Ten years later and these recordings from February 22nd are a first reminder of the earthquake’s devastation.
The audio recording says, “Three people are missing, one of them confirmed K41-1,” the code that indicates someone’s death.
For those who needed help that day, there is another sound they will remember as well, the soothing voices of emergency call recipients during a moment of tragedy.
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