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Working hard to make a difference

Wing Commander Richard Deihl and Squadron Leader Rebecca ‘George’ Magdalinos oversee two key aspects of the national Government response – Auckland’s Managed Isolation Quarantine Facilities (MIQFs) and allocating passengers arriving into the country to th

30 October, 2020

The pair work out of Auckland’s Regional Isolation and Quarantine Coordination Centre (RIQCC).

They work with the All of Government team as well as people from outside organisations including Auckland Airport, Air NZ and District Health Boards, Wing Commander (WGCDR) Deihl said.

“Across the sites, including hotel staff, there are 2900 staff. There are about 500 agency staff there at the moment, but that will increase to about 800 or 900 once we get the full NZDF security people on site.”

The Defence Force was a good option to lead these teams because its organisational structure made the dissemination of information and reporting and escalation of issues much more efficient. Personnel also all had experience in leading teams and utilising processes, procedures and systems to achieve outcomes, he said.

“It’s good to see the role that the NZDF has played in this and we are trusted by Government to do it and so we’ve proven ourselves in previous operations to be able to do it and they know they can turn to Defence.

“It’s shown that we have lots of good people who are adaptable to any situation,” WGCDR Deihl said.

Squadron Leader (SQNLDR) Magdalinos said she worked alongside incredible people working hard to make sure that they delivered what they needed to.

“We get to see the thank you letters the MIQF staff receive and it shows the difference our people make for the MIQF returnees. Everybody understands why we’re there. The people who are on site at the hotels really and truly make a difference to returnees and we get that feedback. There’s an enormous sense of pride that I get to be a small part of that.”

There was a strong relationship between the Defence Force MIQF managers at the facilities and security, health and the hotel staff, SQNLDR Magdalinos said.

“The role is so far removed from our day jobs, but we do it very, very well. We’re doing as much as we can in quite challenging circumstances.

“What you can see is that commitment to make sure that the mission is well supported and we are doing everything we can to make sure we are doing our bit to protect New Zealand’s borders and the public from a potential outbreak.”

Some situations in the MIQFs and RIQCCs have meant our personnel have been required to think quickly and make decisions on the spot, she said.

“People at all levels of the organisation are demonstrating that ability to provide rapid solutions, or if they can see a gap they stretch to fill it while we get a more permanent solution in behind it.”

Published in Air Force News - Issue 229