European project – Aware & Resilient
“Improving disaster preparedness by sharing information, strengthening communities and acting together”
Lead: Austrian Red Cross Project partners: Bulgarian, French, Romanian and Latvian Red Crosses and the French Ministry for Ecology Sustainable Development , Transport and Habitation
Project duration: April 2013 to March 2015.
A host of activities on disaster prevention and preparedness measures have been implemented within the European Union in past years. However, it remains evident that citizens, particularly younger persons, are not aware of their own role nor contribution in disaster prevention. Additionally, it is still common that organisations and authorities in civil protection are delivering disaster preparedness exercises without actively involving citizens in the community. Several tools for raising the awareness of the population in disaster preparedness and for strengthening community involvement have been developed by individual Red Cross Societies.
Aims and objectives
The overall aim of the Aware & Resilient project is to raise the awareness of citizens, particularly younger persons of the value and benefits of disaster preparedness and of creating community links. The main objectives are: a) informing citizens of the main pillars of disaster preparedness and additionally, the role that they can play to protect themselves and others; b) improving the link between relevant stakeholders at community level; and c) sharing, translating and adapting awareness raising tools that have been developed by individual Red Cross Societies for use in other European countries.
Main activities and expected results
1) Based on material developed by the French Red Cross, a basic, one hour awareness raising activity on disaster preparedness for citizens will be developed and tested in partner countries. Trainers will be provided with training to teach this basic awareness raising activity. Copies of training materials will be available.
2) The existing serious gaming tool “Worst Case Hero”, developed by the Austrian Red Cross, will be translated and made available in all partner countries. The aim of the tool is to test people’s knowledge in disaster preparedness using three different scenarios: flooding, power outage and flu pandemic. Implementation of the tool into “Facebook”, facilitates multi-directional communication with the target groups. This is a valuable asset for social media dissemination strategies in disaster management organisations.
3) Community-based exercises will be undertaken in one community in each participating country, based on the learning from the Informed Prepared Together project. These will be one day interactive events involving citizens and key stakeholders. The aim is to gain practical knowledge about an effective response in the case of emergency and disaster and a shared understanding by citizens and stakeholders of their roles. A guide for other communities interested in running such exercises will be available.
2nd A&R Project meeting in Paris
Latvian Red Cross took part in Aware & Resilient 2nd project meeting in Paris, France, hosted by our partner French Red Cross – September 15-17, 2013.
The project action leaders met to discuss project progress, implementation, introduce the results of the research phase for different tasks; to agree on an evaluation design for each of the tasks; to agree on next steps with respect to tasks; scheduling for the next half year; to share dissemination activities and plans, and to agree on administrative and organisational issues.
The overall aim of the Aware & Resilient project is to raise the awareness of citizens, particularly younger persons, of the value and benefits of disaster preparedness and of creating community links. The main objectives are: a) informing citizens of the main pillars of disaster preparedness and the role that they can play to protect themselves and others; b) improving the link between relevant stakeholders at the community level; and c) sharing, translating and adapting awareness raising tools that have been developed by individual Red Cross Societies for use in other European countries.
For more information: http://www.ar-project.eu
3rd A&R Project meeting AND Instructors Training in Sofia
The 3rd A&R Project meeting AND Instructors` Training in Sofia partners meeting for the project „Aware & Resilient” was held in the National Training and Logistics Centre at the Bulgarian Red Cross, in Gorni Lozen, Sofia, Bulgaria, on January 30 and February 3, 2014. The aims of the partner meeting were as follows: to prepare instructors’ training; to debrief after instructors’ training; to agree on further procedure for trainers’ training and training for the population; to agree on further procedures for Community Based Exercises (furthermore – CBE).
During the 3rd partners meeting the project team also held Instructors` Training, January 31 – February 1, 2014. Three trainers from the French Red Cross delivered this training for instructors. The Aims of the training were as follows: train instructors to run trainers’ training in each Partner country; introduce CBE design and discuss trainers’ possible roles within CBE; evaluate instructors training from instructors’ point of view. Also two instructors from Latvia were trained during the two-day training.
4th Partner Meeting in Latvia
The 4th partner meeting of the project A&R took place 26-28 of May 2014 in Riga, Latvia, and it was hosted by Latvian Red Cross. The aims of meeting were as followins: finalizing planning for CBE’s in countries and observers; imputing to CBE guide; finalizing training material; discussing pending issues on Worst Case Hero; discussing evaluation of all tasks; discussing dissemination and organisational and administrative issues.
The project partners seized the working sessions to synchronise their efforts towards the execution of the community based concept. The five exercises are based on a common but yet flexible framework which will be piloted between July and October of 2014 in France, Romania, Latvia, Austria and Bulgaria. They are planned as one-day interactive events involving citizens and key stakeholders in disaster management, and include participatory face-to-face and challenging online training elements. Their common aim is to test new and innovative methods to raise the awareness of communities on relevant risks, create a shared understanding by citizens and stakeholders of their respective roles before and during a disaster as well as enhancing their self help capacities.
The first A&R Community Based Exercise
The first Community Based Exercise of A&R project will be taking place 5th of July 2014 in Alfortville, France. The exercise named “EVACRUE 2014” is organized in partnership with the city of Alfortville, which is located 8km in the southeast of the center of Paris. In the interactive part of the exercise citizens will acquire practical skills in emergency accommodation, evacuation, reception and in this way experience the different but equally relevant roles of citizens and civil security stakeholders during an evacuation.
The head of the Jelgava municipality operative information centre, Mr. G.Reinsons, represented the Latvian Red Cross. The Latvian Red Cross, in cooperation with the Jelgava Municipality operative information centre, will organize its community-based exercise on September 11th in Jelgava.
Community based exercise in Jelgava, Latvia
The CBE in Jelgava continues a series of community based exercises in the partner countries of „Aware & Resilient” project, which began on July 5, 2014 in Alfortville, France.
The second CBE took place in the city of Jelgava, Latvia on the 11th of September 2014, and was organized by the Latvian Red Cross (LatRC) in cooperation with the Jelgava Municipality operative information centre. The objective of the community-based exercise was to gain practical knowledge about an effective response in a case of emergency or disaster.
The first part of the day was assigned to an awareness raising exercise and round table discussion. The purpose of the awareness raising exercise was to develop responsible attitude in carrying out concrete actions to prepare most effectively in the face of an individual or group disaster, to become better prepared for a disaster or emergency, and to raise awareness of disaster risks and to build resiliency. Round table discussions were organized in groups on different emergency scenarios to promote the exchange of opinions. Round table discussions were commented-on, and professional experts from emergency services and other civil protection stakeholders, such as Fire Rescue, explained the results.
The second part of the day was more practical. The participants had an opportunity to try out their training by using fire extinguishers, participating in First Aid training, testing the „Worst Case Hero” computer game, and observing demonstrations by emergency services with practical involvement of the participants.
About 200 participants took part in the CBE. International observers from Austrian Red Cross, Romanian Red Cross, and others observed the event.
Photos from the Community based exercise in Jelgava, Latvia:
5th Partner Meeting – Vienna
The 5th partner meeting of A&R Project was held in Vienna, Austria on 12-13th January, 2015. The form of the meeting was quite similar to the other partner meetings, focusing on getting an overview of what had been done during the last months and pinpointing important issues for future progression and coordination of future work.
A special focus was put on debriefing and feed-back on CBEs, final input to CBE guide, finalizing the training material and discussing its design; discussing the launch of Worst Case Hero; discussing the final evaluation report; discussing dissemination as well as the final meeting, timing of project, and organisational and administrative issues.
Austrian Red Cross had done a very good job with arranging the meeting.
A photo from the 5th Partner Meeting in Vienna, Austria:
CBE in Tetovo, Bulgaria „PREPARED FOR DISASTERS – TETOVO – 2014”
Under this slogan, on 12th of October 2014 in the village of Tetovo, Ruse municipality after thorough preparations, the Bulgarian Red Cross together with the partners in the region, which are part of the Unified Rescue System of the country, organized and carried out a community-based emergency exercise with the residents of the village. The exercise was conducted in the frames of the EU funded Aware and Resilient project.
The exercise aims to raise awareness and knowledge of the participants about the real and potential risks threatening them and the whole community, about how to deal with the risks in the best way. It also educates them on the roles, capacities and working procedures of relevant institutions, and on how to apply the Community-based emergency exercise guide, which is developed within the project.
The exercise gathered more than 150 people from the village, with different ages and ethnic backgrounds. The participants attended sessions on family preparedness for emergencies (Introduction to Risk Reduction). After that, participants were split into six working groups for interactive sessions, facilitated by representatives of partner institutions and organizations to discuss emergency situations and response: “Information and Communication” – 112 Regional Centre, “Safety and Rescue” – the Regional Department of Fire Safety and Protection of Population, First Aid – Bulgarian Red Cross volunteers from Ruse, “Medical Assistance” – Emergency Medical Assistance Centre – Ruse, “Psychosocial Support” – Bulgarian Red Cross volunteers from Ruse, and “Disaster Management and Humanitarian Aid” – Crisis Centre at the Municipality of Ruse and Bulgarian Red Cross.
Volunteers of the Bulgarian Red Cross – Ruse facilitated parallel sessions with the rest of the participants from the local community on mapping the risks and dangerous areas in the village; they developed a historical profile of the village representing the main events in its past and made a profile of the village residents, including people with skills who can provide support in disasters and the most vulnerable groups.
Parallel sessions with the younger children were carried out in the local school, where the children played the “Worst Case Hero” computer game, based on three scenarios of emergencies and they had to find the best way of coping with such situations and how they can prepare for them. Children made their own emergency kits, they received basic skills of how to render First Aid to an injured schoolmate, and they learned what to do in various emergency situations, played on the basis of short videos made by the French Red Cross.
At the end of the event, a practical exercise and competition was carried out among firefighters and people from the village to extinguish fires and using fire-fighting equipment.
Participants received useful information materials and awards. They expressed their satisfaction of the useful and interesting exercise and acquired knowledge, which will be very useful for them in emergency situations.
As a result of the community-based emergency exercise, the people of Tetovo learned of the necessity to prepare their own family disaster plans, to prepare a family disaster kit, to learn more about how to render first aid, about the importance of creating a local volunteer disaster response team, as well as about the work of rescuers and institutions and what assistance they can expect in a situation of emergency.
The community-based emergency exercise was highly esteemed by the international observers from partner countries in the Aware and Resilient project.
Community based exercise in Hadres, Austria
On October 12th a CBE organized by the Austrian Red Cross and the Lower Austrian Civil Protection Association took place in Hadres, Lower Austria as a part of the EU project “Aware&Resilient”. Several workshops and open stations attracted the local population. About 350 visitors were able to refresh and expand their knowledge on disaster prevention. The goal was to make the local population aware of the risks they are exposed to in this region.
The CBE in Hadres was well organized and we are looking forward to implementing the lessons learned in other regions and countries.
The on-line training application “Worst Case Hero” was expanded and adapted for use in six countries within the Aware & Resilient project.
It allows players to learn about preparing for three different disaster scenarios: Flood, Power Outage, and Flu Pandemic and then to test their knowledge.
The game can be played in Bulgarian, English, French, German, Latvian, and Romanian:
Final meeting of the “Aware & Resilient” project
The final project meeting for the A&R (Aware & Resilient) project was held in Austria, on the 26- 27th of March 2015. Main aims of the meeting was to present tools developed within A&R to colleagues from other Red Cross Societies; find out about other Red Cross Societies tools and exchange experience; evaluation and exchange of experience on the Community-based exercises run in the A &R project between those involved in its organisation (volunteers, local partners). Also the A&R team had the possibility to discuss finishing of CBE guide, national dissemination meetings, reporting issues and conducted debriefing of final meeting.