On 8 and 9 March representatives of the English, French, Belgian and Dutch MIRGs, MRCC’s and the European Civil Protection organisation, gathered in Arras, France for a two-day Table Top Exercise. The Pas de Calais Fire and Rescue Service hosted the exercise. Goals of the drill: Testing and implementing the alerting of teams on maritime incidents through the European Civil Protection Mechanism in preparation of the Full scale Exercise to be held in October.
About 40 people gathered for a plenary kick-off session. Introduction presentations took all participants and observers through the MIRG-EX project in general and emergency planning on the Belgian seaside and the European Civil Protection Mechanism in specific. The Belgian, Dutch, UK and French MIRG teams then explained their national lines of alerting during a maritime incident. Day 1 ended with a table top exercise focussing on the Belgian maritime emergency system.
On day 2 the exercise participants split into a strategic group and a tactic one. The strategists discuss the alarming process and the procedures for deployment of the MIRGs. Working with teams from four different countries in a situation that demands quick response, is new in the Civil Protection Mechanism. In a number of sessions, the group goes through this process and discusses how it can be filled in efficiently and what can be done in preparation to enhance and speed up the process.
The tactical team goes through command en control structures in case teams from different countries are at work simultaneously. Question such as: Who is in charge of the operation and who communicates with the home front, come up during the various sessions.
Next test 25 May
At the end of the two-day drill it is concluded that all parties involved have clearer view of how international deployment for combatting maritime incidents could be organized. Several voids will be filled in the next few weeks. How these solutions will work out, will be tested 25 May during a command post exercise. All parties present in Arras will take part in this exercise as well. This time from their home base, testing the system and testing all means of communication.