At our third plenary (July 2018) we joined Vigili del Fuoco on their recki in Spoleto, Italy, the site for our first table top exercise (TTX). Our Mixed Reality Preparedness Platform (MRPP) prototype will be tested in an industrial CBRN scenario, a chemical spill of noxious gas from an overturned truck on the main roundabout into Spoleto.
A TTX is a rehearsal of collaborating partners – practising who leads, how evacuation takes place, familiarisation with roles, procedures and responsibilities. It’s a simulation of an emergency situation in an informal setting (as opposed to a demonstration, in a stressed environment with real actors on site, sometimes including press). The first prototype MRPP (TRL 4) will be put to the test. It will challenge the responder teams’ ability in strategic decision making and their ability to coordinate the response effectively. Vigili del Fuoco are the coordinators and their focus is to bring a level of detail to the exchange of information and interoperability required during the exercise. The process of preparedness requires hours of practice so that people can collaborate well in a spontaneous situation.
It’s similar to what Gladwell says about basketball:
“Basketball is an intricate, high-speed game filled with split-second, spontaneous decisions. But that spontaneity is possible only when everyone first engages in hours of highly repetitive and structured practice–perfecting their shooting, dribbling, and passing and running plays over and over again–and agrees to play a carefully defined role on the court. . . . spontaneity isn’t random.”
At this stage of IN-PREP, our questions are:
- To what extent does the IN-PREP prototype tool have the potential to validate plans and procedures?
- During these exercises will there be enough variables so that the unexpected may be exposed?
- What might be a reasonable result obtained at the 1st table top exercise in Spoleto?
IN-PREP TTXs and demonstrations (in 2019) will be used to trial the MRPP prototype as a tool for planning and training as well as to assess existing plans and procedures in disaster management in different regions. They also present an opportunity for different agencies from different countries to practice together. The recent approval (European Parliament, May 2018) to upgrade the civil protection mechanism and establish an “equivalent of an Erasmus programme” between civil protection personnel, acknowledges the value and cooperation gained when civil protection personnel share knowledge in different host environments. After the TTX site, we visited the ancient sacred forest in Monteluco, an area that may potentially form part of the TTX. Hidden from the winding road that rises 800m,the houses, many of which are summer residences, are set within the lush forest. The tree canopy provide much needed shade and biodiversity , however also increases potential vulnerability for fire spread.
The day before, our plenary meeting was hosted by Vigili del Fuoco at the Fire Prevention Institute in the Eternal City. We were welcomed by Stefano Marsella the director for the National Fire Academy, Department of Fire Corp. Public Rescue & Civil Defence Italy. It was an intense day with absolutely relevant conversations between civil protection agencies and the tech team.
FhG and Crisisplan had completed the research for the end user requirement through enduser workshops. Now it’s the tricky part of interpreting the needs into technological requirements in line with end user expectations. The upcoming TTX shall test the MRPP against the application of the plans of civil protection agencies and responders. Through the feedback loop, the bottle necks in the system will emerge and measures can be taken to improve preparedness and alter plans. It is an opportunity to observe which part of the plan needs to be adapted, which component of the MRPP has to be redesigned and then which part needs to be practised again in the next IN-PREP TTX in Netherlands.
As Captain Zoltan Hozbor states “… there is no accident, incident disaster that is the same ….. and thus preparation leads you to be automatic.” IN-PREP is creating a training system so that agencies can practice together and their actions can ‘be automatic’.
The results from our exercises will contribute to the iterative design process of the IN-PREP training system:
- The Mixed Reality Preparedness Platform (MRPP) – a novel IT tool capable of exchanging data with different operational systems
- Training modules that facilitate joint training sessions and tailored to different types of civil protection agencies
- A Crisis Management handbook that enables agencies to implement the MRPP, including recommendations on organisational & legal issues, and human factors in the command & control room
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Johanna Varghese from CARR Communications is the Communications and Dissemination Manager of IN-PREP. CARR leads on the Communications and Dissemination work package. They shall communicate all developments emerging from the IN-PREP project and co-manage the International workshop on Disaster Resilience and Preparedness. they also contribute to 3 other work packages.