"... Meanwhile on the ground, the situation was still unfolding. The quake had been felt strongly across the province and beyond, alerting people outside the city that Christchurch would likely be in need of help. Such was the rapid conclusion of Jim Patrick, then Senior Pastor at Darfield Baptist Church, and part-time Police chaplain. Those in Darfield had more reason than most to feel empathy for Christchurch, as their town had been closest to the epicentre of the September quake. Back then, Jim had gone in to Christchurch Central Police Station, and been a supportive presence in the Southern Communications Centre in the hours after the quake. This time, after checking that no-one in his congregation was in need of urgent help, Jim again donned his chaplain's vest and headed to Christchurch, wondering what he would find. District Superintendent Dave Cliff welcomed Jim to attend briefings, and was happy for him to resume his post at the Central Station. The Southern ComCen was on level three of the building; a 13 storey, 1960's tower that had stood up to the quakes, but which, like most inner city buildings, was chaos inside. The two dozen or so Police and Fire Comms operators were working amidst fallen ceiling tiles and upended filing cabinets, having remained at their desks throughout the initial evacuation of the building. Their job was absolutely vital to the coordination of the emergency response, and Jim felt privileged to be there as a silent, prayerful presence with them. He remembers their calm professionalism despite the concern for their own families and homes which must surely have been present in their minds.
After an hour or so, Jim joined another senior officer on a tour of part of the inner city, visiting various police checkpoints. At some point, they separated, and Jim found himself at Hagley Park, where a large crowd had begun to gather. Some were inner city workers, but many were tourists and backpackers from nearby hotels and hostels. As Jim's Chaplain's vest identified him as Police, many approached him asking 'What do I do?' and 'Where do I go?' However, Jim had no direct means of communication with headquarters: chaplains are not issued with a comlink and the cell phone networks in the city were still marginal. By this stage, light rain had begun to fall, and he could see that quick action was in order. His response was to walk the four blocks back to the central station, and alert them to the fact that a police presence was needed at Hagley Park. Alongside this, Jim managed to get through to his wife Lois back in Darfield, and let her know of the plight of the many overseas visitors who had nowhere to go. She instantly agreed to ring around the church and see what they could arrange. At this point, Jim felt doubly reassured that suitable help was on its way..."