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Large scale civil protection exercises
Falck organizes 9 large scale civil protection exercises on behalf of the European Commission. The exercises take place at different locations throughout Europe, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, France, Italy and the Netherlands, between November 2012 and June 2014.
Civil protection teams that respond internationally to a disaster can participate in the exercises. For example Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) teams have to be present within 24 hours to support the local resources after an earthquake has taken place. The USAR teams are specialized in searching for survivors and extracting them from rubble and collapsed buildings. Other teams, such as advance medical post, high capacity pumping and CBRN teams also participate in the exercises. The learning objectives consist of cooperation, self sufficiency, interoperability and procedures.
Each exercise consists of 3 to 4 international teams which are coordinated by a small team of experts trained on European level. Approximately 150 participants and 100 staff and role players with on average 17 nationalities take part in each exercise. An exercise lasts for 4 days including night shifts. The teams arrive at the disaster area after a border crossing and have to set up their own base of operations. After a field assessment they agree upon a plan of action and start operating in the field. The exercise is finished with a social event and a feedback session in which the teams receive feedback by their personal trainer.
The exercise is characterized by the realistic experience it gives to participants. The pressure is high on teams, some even forget that they are on an exercise. Each exercise location writes their own script and prepares their own objects which results in a different experience for the participants. The flow of the exercise is determined by the coordination team, that decides on the plan of action. Victims, local authorities and press provide injects to participants to make the exercise as realistic as possible.
The first five exercises have been a great success. The participants had a great learning opportunity. The last exercise in 2013 will take place end of May in Estonia. Many teams have already registered for the next cycle of 3 exercises.
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