Exercises in countries

Each of the partner countries organized a community-based exercise in order to examine the existing situation regarding the disaster management preparedness in connection with older people. They included training in a real life situation (i.e., training of evacuating older people from a social care center where the inhabitants of the centre, the fire brigade and other assistant staff members and volunteers could test their knowledge on dealing with the emergency situation) or training and awareness raising sessions for older people. These community-based exercises helped to see how the needs and resources of older people are already being included in disaster response and which specific fields still should be improved.

Community-based exercise in Austria

In Austria the piloted events consisted of three parts:

  1. The half day workshop to improve cooperation between different stakeholders and raise awareness for older people in disasters was on 21 October, 2015. It also served to discuss the current situation and to clarify interest in possible future cooperation on this issue. The target of the meeting was to present the project PrepAge, the actual state of the research and to discuss and collect ideas from participants on improvement and possible cooperation in the future on the situation of older people in disasters. 15 people from different organisations took part.
  2. A trade fair for seniors “SenAktiv“ took place in Innsbruck from -22. November 2015. The main goal was to inform older people about disaster preparedness measures and give them tips on how they can prepare themselves. Information was provided at the stand of the Red Cross through leaflets and bilateral conversations and during two presentations.
  3. The table-top exercise was carried out by the local emergency management authority of the City of Innsbruck together with the Red Cr6ss in January 2015. Organisations from the field of health and social services for older people as well as Municipal Property Management Agencies. The simulated scenario was a blackout in a district of Innsbruck. This simulation exercises aim was to learn about processes in disaster management with a focus on older people, identify gaps in knowledge and preparation with respect to older people and to find out which organisations can and should contribute which type of information in a disaster situation.

Lessons learned

  • Raising awareness among different stakeholders: The exercise was a good tool to raise awareness since needs and gaps become very obvious as well as to network and exchange experiences between health and social service organizations but also the command body.
  • Capacities of health and social service organizations and responsibilities: Competencies and knowledge of health and social services organizations were not used to full extent by the local emergency management authority of the City of Innsbruck. This will be improved in the future.
  • Information flow: There is no structure in place to share data or information between the local emergency management authority and organizations.

Recommendations on local level

  1. Carry out interactive information events allowing for bi-lateral communication on disaster preparedness for seniors.
  2. Establish clear information chains and procedures/structures how information can be exchanged between those institutions responsible for disaster management and health and social services organizations.
  3. Establishment of a Task Force to continuously improve coordination and networking in the City of Innsbruck

Please see the photos HERE!

Community-based exercise in Croatia

The Croatian Red Cross Community-based exercise which was held on October 2, 2015 in Slunj, was part of the “PrepAGE” project.  It brought together experts from the field of protection and rescue, health and social sectors from Republic of Croatia and beneficiaries (older population). The aim of the exercise was to inform and train all relevant factors in the system of protection and rescue in situations where, because of crisis or disaster, evacuation of the population is necessary.

Call for participation at the Exercise was sent to experts who come from organizations dealing with matters of protection and rescue, as well as those from health and social sector who are providing care for the older population. Since the objectives of the exercise were linked to the problem of evacuation in emergencies and disasters, representatives of local governments and users themselves (the elderly) were invited. Overall there were 84 participants in the exercise.

The exercise was conducted in the area of Slunj, and consisted of a theoretical and practical part. The theoretical part was organized in such a way that all the institutions and organizations presented to users the scope and method of their work, including examples from past crises. The users themselves were actively engaged in the debate, citing examples from real life that have happened to them. Presentations were done by representatives of  the city of Slunj, the Ministry of Social Policy and Youth, the National Protection and Rescue Directorate, Department for Emergency Management of Zagreb and the Croatian Red Cross.

A special section was devoted to the problem of reluctance to leave  homes by their owners in situations when it is necessary. The team for the psychosocial support of the Croatian Red Cross organized a group work in which users shared their experiences, comments and fears about the evacuation.

The practical part of the exercise was carried out on the football field and on the river Korana. The employees, members of the emergency team and the Croatian Red Cross volunteers built a tent settlement for evacuated population on the football field in Slunj. Tents settlement with all the services and activities that can be organized within it were presented to users.

Representatives of the Croatian Mountain Rescue presented their work and equipment, and made users familiar with all the services which they can expect from them in crisis situations. On the river Korana, members of  the Water rescue Team of the Croatian Red Cross demonstrated several ways of rescue and evacuation of the population in case of floods. The beneficiaries were actively engaged in exercises simulating people who need assistance during evacuation. After lunch, the participants of the exercise were given space for additional questions and comments, and  the evaluation of the exercise was made.

All participants expressed their satisfaction with the idea to organize such exercises, involving all organizations and institutions from the system of protection and rescue, and the beneficiaries  themselves.

Representatives of institutions and organizations shared opinion that joint exercises contribute to better coordination and a better response to emergencies and disasters, as well as raising awareness for assistance providers and recipients themselves significantly increasing the resilience of the entire society. It was recommended that this kind of joint exercises would be good if organized in other places in Croatia. The beneficiaries (the elderly) actively participated with great interest during the entire exercise. New information about the functioning and organization of the system are considered to be very useful.

Please see the photos HERE!

Community-based exercise in Bulgaria

On 5th of December, 2015 the Bulgarian Red Cross organized a simulation of flood alert, flooding scenario, evacuation of the population in country side (including older people as an active group). The local partner within the PrepAGE project was the Yambol branch of the Bulgarian  Red Cross.

Trained and active older people took part of the activities before the simulation of the “disaster”. They are part of the teams, responsible for information spreading among the population and provided concrete information to the people how to react adequately in situation of flood disaster and to be prepared for evacuation process (distributing the Family plan for reaction in cases of disaster).

The included stakeholders during the exercise were Emergency and disaster management stakeholders from governmental and local institutions, representatives of the health and care sector for older people, NGO’s, stakeholders, the civil society, BRC National Team For Disaster Preparedness; Volunteer Teams for disaster preparedness. Active older people as volunteers, took part in the exercise in the activities before the simulated disaster event and after the evacuation.

At the community-based exercise people were evacuated from 4 different houses full of people and afterwards were evacuated to the evacuation center in a safety place outside the village. Representatives of the Bulgarian RC, Health and Social Services collected information for the people: Names, Age, Chronically Ills, are there missing members of their families, and also provided First Aid and Psychosocial Support to the community within the evacuation center.

Please see the photos HERE!

Comunity-based exercise in UK

The British Red Cross Community-based Exercise was held on 29th September 2015 in Woking, Surrey. 50 delegates, aged over 65 attended the event entitled ‘Be prepared – empowering adults in local emergencies’. The event was also attended by representatives from the Police, Fire Service, Local Authority, Utilities Company, Environment Agency, the Mayor and Mayoress of Woking and Age Concern.

The exercise was focussed on three main objectives:

  1. To identify and raise awareness of the needs of older people in an emergency in order to inform PrepAGE recommendations
  2. To raise awareness of the services available locally which older people can access to prepare for and withstand an emergency
  3. To enhance the preparedness of older people in an emergency

The day comprised of three sections; ‘Helping us to help you’, ‘Helping you to help yourself’, and ‘Be Prepared’.

‘Helping us to help you’ was a scenario based exercise based on a fictitious flooding situation. There were four injects which built the severity of the scenario, beginning with the initial issuing of a flood alert, progressing through a power outage and evacuation, and concluding with the return to homes with minor damage. At each inject delegates were asked to discuss within their groups three things:

    • What their needs would be at this time
    • What actions they would take in each situation
    • What their concerns would be

Helping you to help yourself’ was a panel discussion based around the needs and concerns that were raised by delegates during the scenario exercise. The panel, comprised of representatives from the Police, Fire Service, Local Authorities, Utilities Company and the Environment Agency addressed the issues raised.

‘Be Prepared’ was a market place style exercise where delegates were invited to visit the stalls of different services and organisations, and gain information and advice on areas including basic first aid, home and fire safety and preparing emergency kits. Every delegate was given a British Red Cross emergency kit to take home with them.

The event was well received. Here are some quotes from delegates:

“I just wanted to say a big ‘thank you’ for the ‘Be Prepared’ event last Tuesday. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and learnt a lot. The organisation was excellent, as was the lunch. We are busy people, but this was time well spent. Please pass on our thanks to everyone else involved in making it a rewarding day.”

“Thank you for that event yesterday.  It was both instructive and enjoyable.”

“Just want to say thank you, for looking after us so well yesterday, and please also pass on our thanks to all the others that helped to make the meeting a complete success”

“We both thoroughly enjoyed the event today and were really glad that we had the opportunity to go. Good to have the chance to ask questions of the panel as well and certainly came away much informed. Mostly it is common sense but as people get older they get more muddled and need others who care enough to want to help. I think the overall point of concern was communication and more of it. I was surprised about some areas that I didn’t know anything about…we do tend to take so much for granted. Lastly the refreshments were lovely and particularly the lunch which we did so enjoy.”

“Thank you and your colleagues from the various statutory and voluntary organisations for a most interesting and informative day – we learnt a lot, which we hope not to have to put into practice!  However, if we do, we shall be much better prepared than we would otherwise have been. We are also passing on what we have learnt to our friends and neighbours.”

Please see the photos HERE! Please see the Agenda and Speaker Bios.

Community-based exercise in Latvia

On 3rd September Latvian Red Cross (LatRC) organized a community based exercise – evacuation training in the LatRC Social Care Centre Sturisi in Laidze, Talsi region. 130 inhabitants who daily live in the centre are mostly elderly people who suffer from dementia, have mental or movement disorders. The training was organized within international project PrepAGE and it involved participation of stakeholders, rescue services, LatRC staff and volunteers.

The participants at the evacuation training were leading representatives of Talsi municipality, rescuers from State Fire and Rescue Service, State Emergency Medical Service, State Forest Service, Latvian State Police, Municipal Police, Latvian National Guard, employees of Security Company “TalComm” and staff and volunteers of LatRC social care centre. Among the observers there were representatives of Ministry of Welfare, Riga Social Welfare department, different social care centres, local inhabitants of the nearby areas, as well as the Estonian Red Cross colleagues.

After the practical part of the training everyone had an opportunity to observe demonstrations of using fire extinguishers and to learn how to give the First Aid. LatRC introduced the audience with its experience within the international project “Aware & Resilient” which aimed at informing the society and ensuring its awareness in order to be ready in case of emergencies and disasters.

The event concluded with an evaluation discussion, when delegates from all included institutions gave their opinions and conclusions on what should be improved in rescue plans, specially related to rescuing seniors and people with special needs. The main goal of this discussion was to come up with recommendations and improvements. The recommendations from each of the partner RC organizations will be put together in order to deliver specific European recommendations.

Latvian Red Cross is THANKING every participant and rescuers for their support, work and responsiveness!

Please see the photos HERE!