Disaster management (civil protection) in Slovenia is organised as an integrated system, which includes various parties: rescue units and services (professional and voluntary, civil protection), humanitarian organisations, research institutions, other organisations and governmental administrative bodies. The unified system is based on humanitarian principles and in line with international standards. The system is regulated by the Act on Protection against Natural and Other Disasters and other sector specific acts. It addresses all phases of the cycle: prevention, preparedness, response to disasters, and recovery.
The responsibilities for the disaster management system lie with the government, local communities, commercial companies, and citizens. The system is based on a bottom-up approach and systematic (subsidiary) principle.
The national authority responsible for disaster management is the Administration of the Republic of Slovenia for Civil Protection and Disaster Relief (ACPDR) within the Ministry of Defence.
The National Programme of Protection against Natural and other Disasters, which is adopted every seven years, sets prevention and disaster risk reduction activities as a priority. Its basic aim is to reduce the number of accidents and to prevent or alleviate their consequences. The priorities of each year are defined in annual programmes, which are in accordance with a seven-year plan. Preventive activities are implemented by various ministries, depending on their line of work, and within local communities.
Every ministry and self-governing local community is competent for drafting risk assessments for individual disasters. The ACPDR is the national coordination body for risk assessments, and monitors the development of disaster risk assessments with competent authorities and participating bodies and develops the national disaster risk assessment in cooperation and agreement with the competent authorities.
There are 15 individual risk assessments (for earthquakes, floods, health threats of biological, chemical, environmental and unknown origin, particularly dangerous animal diseases, nuclear or radiological emergencies, railway accidents, aircraft accidents, large wildfires, terrorism, drought, sleet, accidents involving dangerous substances, accidents at sea, cyber risks, forest tree diseases and pests and a national disaster risk assessment).
Risk management planning is carried out as an integrated cross-sectoral approach. The authorities responsible for the risk assessment for individual disasters are also responsible for assessments of risk management capabilities for individual disasters. There are individual assessments of risk management capabilities for earthquakes, floods, health threats of biological, chemical, environmental and unknown origin, particularly dangerous animal diseases, nuclear or radiological emergencies, railway accidents, aircraft accidents, large wildfires, terrorism, drought, sleet, accidents involving dangerous substances.
The ACPDR is the authority responsible for national disaster response plans. There are national response plans for earthquakes, floods, aircraft accidents, railway accidents, nuclear or radiological emergencies, major wildfires, massive outbreaks of highly dangerous animal diseases, large-scales of contagious diseases in people, terrorist attacks with weapons or means of mass destruction or with conventional means.
Disaster or emergency related information is disseminated to the public via traditional media and social media, including television, radio, the Internet, Facebook, twitter, and teletext.
Awareness raising is also integral. The public are given instructions for personal protection and preparedness before and during a range of different types of natural and man-made disasters.
In recent years, the Internet has proven to be a useful tool for informing the public. Therefore, the ACPDR’s website provides comprehensive information on how to act before and during disasters and on preventive and preparedness measures, as well as information about warnings, alarm signals, and other important information.
Professional fire fighters are trained at a professional firefighting school, which is part of the national training centre for civil protection and disaster relief and under ACPDR. Voluntary fire-fighters are partially trained in the professional fire-fighting school and partially by the Slovene Firefighting Association. Other voluntary organisations train their members themselves. The state and municipalities train civil protection personnel, using programmes approved by the competent ministry. National and regional exercises are organised by governmental bodies with the ACPDR as the leading authority. Table-top exercises are mostly conducted as one day or multiple-day exercises with simulations of procedures and activities. Field exercises are organised as one day or multiple days of practical or combined exercises.
In Slovenia, sirens are a public warning system for the population. The alarm signals includes: general warnings signals and special local signals. The testing of sirens takes place every first Saturday in a month at noon.
There are three general warning signals: threat warning, imminent threat, and end of threat.
There are special local signals for an imminent threat of a chlorine accident and imminent threat of a flood wave.
Additionally, traditional and social media are used as a means to broadcast additional information about the natural or man-made disaster. The Emergency Notification Centre of the Republic of Slovenia is responsible for monitoring the events and issues alerts and warnings when emergencies occur and for the activation of sirens to raise the alarm in case of emergencies. The centre receives meteorological information and compiles a bulletin in which warning information is inserted and distributed to the public. The centre is also responsible for informing other countries (bilateral agreements) and organisations (EU, UN, NATO) about the disasters in Slovenia and possible cross-border effects, and for sending requests for international assistance. It is also the contact point for the information on disasters in other countries and requests for provision of international assistance in the case of major disasters abroad.
Operational command and coordination is carried out at different levels. In cases of minor accidents, commanders of individual protection and rescue units command the response (incident commanders).
The management of the response in major accidents or disasters is in the hands of civil protection commanders and their staff at municipal or regional levels. In case of major disasters, the civil protection commander of the Republic of Slovenia manages the response, and he is directly accountable to the government. He is assisted by the Civil Protection Headquarters, which is formed by the members of various respective ministries, experts from different fields and heads of different protection and rescue units
The request for assistance to neighbouring countries or to the international community in the events of major natural and other disasters can be made by the government of the Republic of Slovenia or by the civil protection commander. The Slovenian Red Cross and other humanitarian governmental and non-governmental organisations are in principle autonomous in arranging their activities. The provision of international rescue and relief assistance from Slovenia to a requesting state is authorised by the government of the Republic of Slovenia following a proposal by the civil protection commander of the Republic of Slovenia or the Minister of Defence.