Why is this important?
Disasters resulting from natural phenomena, as well as man-made disasters, can have serious effects on communities and the areas they live in. It is therefore essential to ensure that civil protection systems are at all times ready to respond to crises in the most efficient manner, saving as many lives as possible and limiting damage to the environment and property.
Civil protection exercises are fundamental to prepare civil protection teams to react fast and in a coordinated manner when disasters occur. Exercises at European level, involving a number of countries at a time, contribute to enhancing collaboration in disaster preparedness across borders.
What are we doing?
The European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) funds a number of civil protection exercises every year. To this aim, a call for proposals for full-scale exercises and a call for tenders for modules exercises are published every year.
Alongside full-scale exercises, which are organised by civil protection authorities of countries and co-financed by the EU, modules field and table-top exercises are organised under the supervision of the European Commission. They are conducted to improve preparedness and enhance collaboration among European civil protection authorities and teams.
Modules field exercises aim to provide an opportunity for testing specific response capacities, as well as the self-sufficiency, interoperability, coordination and procedures of response teams and equipment. Table-top exercises, in turn, focus on in-depth training of key personnel.
Contingency planning, decision-making procedures, provision of information to the public and the media are among common examples of what can also be tested during the exercises. Moreover, exercises can help supervisors identify further training needs for their staff involved in operations, while lessons-learned workshops organised in parallel can serve as a forum to identify how response can be improved.
Civil protection exercises provide valuable learning opportunities for all involved in operations under the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.