Estonia has a decentralised risk management structure. The government appoints competent authorities for managing each risk. Every ministry is responsible for crisis management in its own area of governance. The ministries are responsible for policy making and subordinate agencies are responsible for policy implementation.
The Ministry of the Interior is responsible for internal security policy and coordination and has a central role in risk and crisis management. It also sets internal security legislation and guidelines, coordinates emergency risk management and contingency planning at national level, coordinates risk assessment and planning for the continuous operation of vital services, coordinates emergency management exercises at national level, and supervises a number of agencies including the Rescue Board and the Police and Border Guard. National defence-related activities as well as strategic communication are coordinated by the Government Office.
Crisis committees at the national, regional and local level monitor national crisis management, including emergency preparedness and response.
Crisis Management Committee of the Government coordinates the performance of the crisis management duties of authorities of executive power, where necessary imposes on them duties for preventing and preparing for emergencies and monitors the performance of duties imposed. Minister of the Interior chairs the Committee.
Renewal of the national risk assessments were conducted and coordinated in 2018 by the Ministry of the Interior. Estonian Government confirmed six major events (rescue event, police event, cyber incident, radiological or nuclear accident, healthcare event, and infectious animal disease).
Estonian contingency plans are risk-based, where designated lead authorities (the authority in charge of preparing a plan) are tailoring inter-agency cooperation mechanisms to build a capacity ready to manage unforeseen or complex crises.
The government has composed a list of those emergencies for which risk communication is organised and designates the authorities responsible for the organisation thereof.
Estonia faces few emergencies therefore public interest in risk management is low. Risk communication takes place for specific risks. Especially in areas where there are plants or factories handling dangerous materials, people must be informed about the possible risks, how to prepare and what to do if there is an incident. The Rescue Board is one authority that carries out risk communication by drawing people’ attention to the threats that might occur.
The overall impact of prevention activities of the Rescue Board is assessed through Awareness Index (started in 2007), which is calculated once in 2 years and focuses on evaluating most aspects of risk and danger prevention awareness: knowledge, attitude, and behaviour.
The Estonian Academy of Security Sciences is an educational institution in the field of internal security for the entire country. The Academy teaches around 1,000 students providing education in customs and taxation, corrections, police, rescue and emergency response services.
Crisis management exercises are organised with the aim of assessing the procedures and capability of resolving one or more emergencies. There are tabletop, command post, field and combined exercises.
Additionally, Estonia has held crisis management exercises with its partners, e.g. Cremex2010.
Estonia is participating in Modex exercises, and has hosted several of them, e.g. Modex Saaremaa 2016 and Modex Väike-Maarja 2017
Estonia does not have a nationwide warning system. In an ongoing emergency, people can be warned via radio, TV, internet, text messages, and - in some areas - sirens.
The Estonian Emergency Response Centre (EERC) is a national rescue organisation and the main task of the EERC is to handle the emergency messages forwarded to the single European emergency number 112 and dispatch for ambulance, fire and rescue services, informs and involves other services, companies and organisations, if necessary.
Emergency response is based on a system divided into 4 levels and 4 stages. Levels show rescue capability and resources; stages assess the complexity of a rescue event. On the order of the Emergency Centre, 1 rescue team responds to a Stage I event, and more teams respond to Stage II, II, III and IV events, respectively. Most of the events require the help of 1 or a few rescue teams. In Estonia, there is a relatively small number of high-level response and rescue works with many teams. The larger number of participating teams also means greater management challenges. The management model is also 4-level.
The Rescue Board's 24/7 readiness is based on 72 professional rescue teams, 4 bomb groups, 118 volunteer rescue teams and a North and East Voluntary Reserve Rescue Team. 300 professional and 200 volunteer rescuers are ready to help people around the clock. Estonia is covered by the rescue network.
Estonia have bilateral agreements with Finland and Sweden and trilateral 3B agreement with Latvia and Lithuania.
Estonian Host Nation Support (HNS) procedures are based on the proposed guidelines on HNS – (SWD(2012) 169 final). If Estonia asks for assistance, then it is done primarily through European Civil protection Mechanism, but also through NATO EARDCC.