The EU-funded Programme on Prevention, Preparedness and Response to Natural and Man-made Disasters (PPRD South) is organising its second workshop and simulation exercise on 'Operational Planning' in Split, Croatia, from 31 January to 4 February 2011. Around 30 civil protection emergency management officers from Albania, Algeria, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Montenegro, Morocco, Palestinian Authority, Tunisia and Turkey will gather in Split with the aim to learn methodologies and tools for planning in advance how to best manage potential emergencies and prepare for the catastrophe.
The workshop will be opened on 31 January by the General Director of the National Protection and Rescue Directorate, Damir Trut, together with Paul Vandoren, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Croatia. During the first workshop session, Tomislav Vuko, Deputy Chief of the Croatian National Fire Department will make an analysis of 2010 forest fire season in Croatia.
Operational planning is the “golden thread” linking strategy to execution. To be effective, operational planning is to be done well in advance before a possible crisis. Once a high level of risk is detected, Civil Protection Authorities utilise “operational planning” as a preparatory measure to minimise losses and limit the consequences on the population. The resulting plan must clearly define what action is to be taken, in case of emergency, by whom, when and where concerning the evacuation of the population, the provision of medical and security services, the provision of drinking water and food, the restoration of electricity and telecommunication networks, etc.
After 3 days of theory and 2 days dedicated to exercises in the field, participants will be able to lead an operational planning process identifying criticalities and priorities for action, defining tasks and responsibilities. During the exercises, participants will face a high wild-fire risk scenario in extreme climatic conditions, which are more and more frequent in the Mediterranean. Divided into 4 teams, they will have to assess the resources required to ensure the protection of a forest area from fire and to prepare an emergency plan coordinating the different organisations involved.
Forest wild fires represent an extremely serious issue in the Mediterranean for the Civil Protection Authorities. It is estimated that on average from 600,000 to 800,000 hectares are lost every year due to 50,000 fires according to the WWF. An area comparable to the islands of Crete or of Corsica, in practice, 1-.3%-1.7% of the total Mediterranean forests. The recent wild fire on Mount Carmel in Israel - which claimed 41 lives, burned more than 5,000 hectares of woodland, destroyed millions of trees, devastated dozens of houses, forced the evacuation of more than 15,000 people and caused damage estimated at over 400 million € - showed how important the international support and coordination among the Civil Protection Authorities is when facing such disasters.