Christchurch mosque attacks: Former top cop says there should be more police, ambulance interagency training

Christchurch's former top cop has told the coronial inquest into the March 15 terror attack that there should be more inter-agency training between first responders.

He resigned from police seven months ago, but believes little has been done between the emergency services to better prepare for a future terrorism attack.

Al Noor Mosque was a peaceful place of prayer and worship until 1:40pm on March 15, 2019.

"We are beside the mosque temple, [there is] machine gun fire, [I] can hear it in the background," said a caller on the phone to police, on the day of the attack.

Meanwhile, John Price was in a meeting on the fourth floor of the Justice Precinct.

"The district manager of intelligence walked into my office and said that there were gunshots and possible shootings in the vicinity of the Al Noor Mosque," he told the court.

Price was to take charge of the response, so he headed to the District Command Centre two floors down.

"You can't allow your heart rate to get up, you've got to keep calm. So I walked from my office, I took the lift down. I didn't take the stairs."

There were 540 police working across three shifts that day.

"[In addition there were] 159 police vehicles and 70 sets of firearms."

On a day where terror and chaos descended on Christchurch.

"In the first 25 minutes, police received 68 shooting-related calls," Price said.

"I requested the lockdown of 768 schools and early childhood centres."

But in the command centre, they didn't identify early on that this was an attack on the Muslim community.

"We also thought the hospital was under attack as well which added in another nuance as to who was being targeted and why," he told the court.

Price left his job seven months ago.

"Was there any interagency training for a terrorist attack?" asked counsel for some of the families, Anne Toohey.

"None that I'm aware of," Price responded.

"Should it be done? Absolutely it should be done."

Given it was, in their own words, the largest response operation ever undertaken by New Zealand police.