Project EU Modex

Published:  03 September, 2012

Specialised response teams from 27 member states and five participating nations of the EU are preparing to test the capabilities of the European Civil Protection Mechanism, writes Ann-Marie Knegt.

Every year the world is struck by several major disasters and the European Civil Protection Mechanism has been designed to ensure that Europe can deliver a quality-driven preparedness strategy for international response on multiple levels.

Danish company Falck was awarded the contract to design, plan and conduct major exercises under the EU Modex project during 2012 and 2013, when EU Member states will be sending out specialist response teams to test how prepared they really are in case disaster strikes.

Jens Poul Madsen (Falck) is project director for EU Modex, and he explains the reason behind being awarded the project by the EU. “We are a corporate organisation that is capable of managing large-scale operations in any part of the world. We have been able to spread the exercise venues across Europe.

Teams in the following disciplines will be taking part in a series of exercises in The Netherlands (two locations), France, Denmark, Estonia and Bulgaria:

•            High capacity pumping

•            Water purification

•            Advanced medical post with or without surgery

•            CBRN detection and sampling

•            TAST (technical assistance team) in charge of organising the operations and logistics and liaising with the EU

•            Medium/heavy USAR teams

•            European civil protection team.

“Within the Civil Protection Modules all the various member states have trained their own national teams in the various disciplines. Each member state has several modules (teams) registered within the EU system and they are ready to respond to a call. A module consists of local experts in a chosen discipline. The teams are on a roster, and the whole system has been built according to the European Civil Protection system,” says Jens Poul.

Operational training is carried out by the member states, but the six exercises have been set up to see if the modules are capable of working together in a real-life international environment. “All guidelines to which the exercises have to be organised were set in the initial tender, and we as Falck are in charge of the organisation; administration; logistics flow; and set-up of the individual exercises. We have created a general handbook and have streamlined individual scenarios with the venue partners,” explains Jens Poul.

The first exercise is taking place at the Falck premises at the Maasvlakte in Rotterdam (Netherlands) in November 2012. The scenario is a flood, and two high capacity pumping modules from Estonia and Italy will take part. Additionally, there will be a CBRN team from Poland and a TAST team from Denmark.

The second exercise will also be held in The Netherlands, and is hosted by Safety Region Twente (Fire Service/Police/Ambulance). An earthquake will have taken place, and MUSAR (medium urban search and rescue) teams from Lithuania and Portugal will respond to the call, while an Estonian team will provide a medical post with surgery. This has been scheduled to take place in December.

Falck Denmark will be hosting experienced MUSAR teams from the UK and Iceland in a similar scenario to the exercise in Twente. An AMP (advanced medical practice) from Czech Republic will also be attending.

The Pole Risques training complex in Aix-en-Provence (France) has dedicated facilities for industrial risks, including CBRN. Therefore a water purification team from Denmark, a CBRN team (Italy) and a Finnish TAST team will be responding to an industrial flooding scenario for several days in February.

The Estonian Rescue board will host teams from Poland (high capacity pumping), an advanced medical team from Italy, a CBRN team from Portugal, supported by a TAST team from Germany, in a flood simulation.

The exercise in Bulgaria will conclude the series in April, with an earthquake scenario similar to what happened in Japan in 2011. Three MUSAR (medium USAR) teams will take part from Slovenia, Estonia and Czech Republic.

All exercises consist of an arrival day and a departure day and run over a 36-hour shift. A full evaluation will be carried out after the conclusion in May 2013. Falck will provide feedback to the teams on a strategic and tactical level, and the company will also produce an evaluation report on every individual exercise, as an integral part of the original tender.

“We have been looking at previous evaluation reports, and have been briefed about the lessons learnt in order to integrate those in the up and coming scenarios. Self-sufficiency in response and interoperability are key issues that we will be pushing forward. Having to operate in a strange environment – in a different language and different culture – puts extra strain on communications and poses a real challenge, and this is why these exercises are so important.

“We try to set up real-life scenarios to our best ability, however it can never be 100% the same as an actual disaster. Therefore we have to evaluate the exercises as concisely as possible, and we are even getting an external agency in to assess the EU Modex project as a whole. It is essential that all lessons learnt are integrated for the next generation of the project, which starts in 2013 and runs up to 2014,” explains Jens Poul.

He adds that the EU has stipulated a thorough vetting process for all trainers, and that only people with previous experience in the UN INSARAG model and the EU Civil Protection mechanism have been hired as trainers and support staff from all the various member states.

Later on in the year F&R will be reporting on the progress of the individual exercises. More information on EU Modex can be found at

  • Operation Florian

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