03 November 2015

Exploring the human – and canine – side of a natural disaster

  • Guinness, an 86-kilogramme Irish Wolfhound. Photo: Sean Scully.

A Christchurch-based volunteer gave a non-engineering perspective on the Canterbury earthquakes to the Engenerate Emerging Professionals Council (EPC) at their recent annual Forum in Wellington.

Sean Scully and his dog Guinness an 86-kilogramme Irish Wolfhound, helped organise wheelbarrows and earthmoving equipment to help deal with liquefaction on people’s properties.

Sean’s inspirational story focused on the human side of working in a community during and after a disaster. He explained how asking people what they need you to do for them is more useful than asking them if they’re ok. He talked about Guinness’ role as a welcome distraction from the devastation, as many people were taken aback by seeing the dog, who was the size of a small pony. He said often people just need to talk about the problem and it’s good to be prepared to listen, rather than immediately looking to provide a solution.

Lucy Abraham GIPENZ, Engenerate National Chair, says “As engineers, we have the tendency to be bogged down with the technical details when tackling problems. Sean taught us the value of stepping back for a moment and understanding the people behind the issues.”