The European Civil Protection Modules Exercises
Belgium receives European assistance as reinforcement after floods
European disaster exercise EUBelmodex in the region of Antwerp
Impressive floods have had an enormous impact on Belgium, the Netherlands and the north of France, bringing about dangerous situations in the surroundings of certain companies in the Port of Antwerp and in a hospital. To be able to face this large-scale situation, the Belgian authorities have requested the European assistance as reinforcement. This disasterluckily was not a real situation, yet the scenario of the European exercise EUBelmodex. This exercise, organised in the framework of the European mechanism for civil protection, took place from 6 to 9 March in the region of Antwerp.
The European exercise EUBelmodex 2015 was financed by the European Commission and fits in with the framework of the ‘Union Civil Protection Mechanism’: a cooperation agreement aiming to provide assistance in case of a disaster inside or outside the European borders. During the exercise, intervention teams and coordination experts from multiple countries came into action: Belgium, Austria, Portugal, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden, Bulgariaand Slovakia.
In total 300 personshave participated in this exercise spread over 5 sites
The organization was ensured by an international team consisting of over 20 countries, under the leadership of the Belgian Directorate-General for Civil Protection, with the full implication of the Emergency Planning Service of the federal services of the governor of Antwerp, the city of Antwerp and multiple local partners. It is already the second time that Antwerp hosts such a European exercise. For the Port of Antwerp was in 2013 the theatre of a similar international deployment.
The floods threatened in particular the company ATPC in the Port of Antwerp. The Austrian team, that was the biggest foreign delegation with its 38 members, was mobilized on the site of this company for pumping works. The water was pumped with a flow rate of 31,000 litres per minute and had to be transported next by means of pipes over a distance of several hundreds of meters. The fast deployment of such an installation on the ground of a refinery and the cooperation with the Belgian Civil Protection have proven to be a real challenge for the Austrian team.
During its visit to the ATPC site, the minister of Home Affairs Jan Jambon has accentuated the importance of such international exercises: "During large-scale disasters the international solidarity is essential, and we need to be able to count on our European colleagues to protect our fellow citizens. On these occasions, an extraordinary expertise needs to be deployed and coordinated fast and efficiently."
Management conform the policy fixed
The whole of the interventions of the foreign teams was coordinated by the ‘European Union Civil Protection Team’ (EUCPT). The necessary political decisions were taken during the provincial coordination committee, under the leadership of Governor Cathy Berx. Just like for the operational services in the field, the cooperation with the international partners was a training objective at the political level.
It is of course way too early to assess this large-scale disaster exercise. Yet, Ilse Van Mechelen, Exercise Director, draws up a first state of affairs: "The scenarios were very rewarding for the European teams and the local partners. The possibilityto train on the ground of real petrochemical sites and in an operational hospital is unique. The first reactions of the participants were already enthusiastic. Cooperating in an international context is a personal enrichment and an extraordinary opportunity anyhow."
In the coming months the thorough assessments will follow and the procedures and processes will be adapted where needed. The lessons learned from this exercise will also be shared and discussed with other partners in Belgium and abroad.
Anne Baetens (Project leader EU Modex) of the Belgian Directorate-General for Civil Protection does not hide her satisfaction: "EUBelmodex was an exceptional occasion to demonstrate the active implication of Belgium and the Belgian Civil Protection in the framework of the European Civil Protection Mechanism. The federal services of the governor of Antwerp, the city of Antwerp and the local partners have been excellent hosts and have allowed the local, regional and international teams to live through very satisfying learning experiences. The integration of the assistance of other member states in our crisis management structure has been a success, and the cooperation between the European countries was improved. I heard that all of the participants have returned tired, yet satisfied, enriched with new experiences and ideas."
On Belgian side, the following partners have participated in the exercise: DG for Civil Protection and DG Crisis Centre (FPS Home Affairs), the operational units of the Civil Protection, the Emergency Planning Service of the federal services of the governor of Antwerp, the Emergency Planning Service of the city of Antwerp, the emergency rescue zone Antwerp, the emergency rescue zone ‘Rand’, the municipality of Edegem, Defence, the Havenbedrijf Antwerpen, the FPS Public Health, the (local and federal) police, different communication specialists and the university of Antwerp. Moreover the following companies have participated in the exercise: ATPC, Lanxess Rubber Zwijndrecht, 3M Zwijndrecht and UZA Edegem.
The European civil protection mechanism
The European civil protection mechanism provides the legal and operational framework for European civil protection assistance inside and outside the Union. An impressive amount of emergencies in recent years, both within the European Union and in third countries, have called on this EU solidarity and triggered an activation of the Mechanism consequently. Accordingly, a vast range of civil protection modules and experts have been deployed in a coordinated and cost-effective manner through this framework.
The overall objective of the European Civil Protection Modules Exercises (EU Modex) is to test and train modules and EU Civil Protection experts made available by Participating States, in order to prepare them for international operations in the framework of the European Civil Protection Mechanism.
Overview of the different lots:
|Lot 1 :||5 table top exercises|
|Lot 2 :||3 exercises to train the Water Purification (WP), High Capacity Pumping (HCP) and Chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear Detection and Sampling modules (CBRN), as well as EUCP-Team experts|
|Lot 3 :||3 exercises to train the Urban Search And Rescue (USAR) teams, |
as well as EUCP-Team and TAST experts
The 2013-2014 Modules Exercises cycle Lot 2 consists of the designing, planning, conducting and evaluating of three exercises for High Capacity Pumping (HCP), Water Purification (WP), Chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) Detection and Sampling and experts of a European Civil Protection Team (EUCPT). These exercises will take place in six countries between October 2013 and October 2014.
The general philosophy of the project is to provide the Participating States with a series of realistic and high quality modules exercises that will enable them to experience EU cooperation and understand the political and operational complexity of international disaster response, as continuously improving disaster preparedness and response by organizing field exercises for civil protection modules and European Civil Protection Experts is an imperative. Such exercises lead to a more effective response by training agreed standards of cooperation and by fostering interoperability between modules.
The exercises include topics such as interoperability, common procedures and communication, and will integrate the latest developments in procedures, including Host Nation Support. National objectives will be drafted in close cooperation with the participating modules and will be implemented in the modules field exercises accordingly.
25 -28 October 2013
Belgium: Port of Antwerp
21 – 25 March 2014
Croatia: Area of Zagreb
26 – 30 September 2014
Luxemburg: General area of Schengen
The partners involved will work together in close cooperation with the European Commission.
How to participate?
Invitations were sent to all competent national authorities, which are responsible for disseminating the necessary information and channelling all nominations for participation.
The general objective of these exercises is to prepare modules and experts for international operations in the framework of the European Civil Protection Mechanism.
More specifically, the exercises aim at:
- Testing the reporting and tasking lines or operational command chain between the field, the national operational centres and the Emergency Response Centre (ERC)
- Enhancing operational cooperation between the participating countries’ modules and the EUCPT, through formal and informal information exchange
- Testing the coordination of EU civil protection assistance in accordance with established rules and regulations, international methodologies and guidelines as to establish a common understanding of the operational cooperation and accelerate the response
For more information on lot 2 of EUModfx, please send an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Financed by the European Commission