The EU PROACTIVE Project Holds its Final Conference in Brussels
We recently had an incredible experience at the Joint Final Conference held in Brussels, Belgium. This event brought together three EU-funded projects: eNOTICE, PROACTIVE, and PANDEM-2, with the aim of enhancing crisis management strategies in the areas of CBRNe incidents and pandemics.
It was an exciting opportunity for over 120 participants to gather either physically or online and exchange valuable insights over this three day event.
The first day of the conference kicked off with an insightful overview of all three projects from their respective coordinators.
Then, partners presented their key findings and recommendations derived from the collaborative field training exercises, which focused on improving CBRNe preparedness and response.
On the PROACTIVE side, Tony Godwin, from project partner CBRNE Ltd, presented about valuable insights from our three CBRNe training exercises. Åsa Burlin, from project partner European CBRNE center also presented about the importance of engaging with Civil Society, including vulnerable groups, for improved CBRN preparedness and response.
What made it even more interesting was the involvement of external stakeholders from the PROACTIVE Civil Society Advisory Board (CSAB), who shared their testimonies and lessons learned from observing these exercises.
First up was Luca Rotondi from Emergenza Sordi who gave testimony on the valuable contribution of deaf volunteers in our CBRNe exercise. He highlighted that their participation exposed communication challenges. This experience helped grow the knowledge of the needs of deaf persons during a CBRN incident.
Second, Mohamed Gawad (Moe) from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, also shared his experience. He emphasized the effectiveness of PROACTIVE training field exercises in bridging the feedback communication gap between civil society and practitioners.
On the second day, we had a fruitful synergy session, where 11 other EU-funded projects joined us to discuss their relevance in relation to the results of eNOTICE, PROACTIVE, and PANDEM-2.
The session began with Jon Hall from the Crisis Management Innovation Network explaining the CSTAC cluster of CBRN and standardisation projects. Then, Ives Van Haute from the Belgium National Crisis Centre shared the work of Bullseye on harmonisation of CBRN procedures and explosive detection dogs.
Federico Benolli from Fondazione SAFE then presented the RESIST project, which focuses on critical infrastructure capacity building for CBRN incidents. He also presented the VERTIgO project, which is developing both hardware and software for Virtual Reality and Extended Reality CBRN training.
This was followed by Chaim Rafalowski from Magen David Adom who discussed how the NO-FEAR Project successfully fostered collaboration among a pan-European network of medical security practitioners, research, industry, and policy makers. He also presented COVINFORM Project, which focuses on vulnerable groups and COVID-19. Together with PROACTIVE, we published a White Paper on Inclusive Crisis Communication for CBRN & pandemics.
The NIGHTINGALE Project was presented by Eleftherios Ouzounoglou from ICCS – NTUA and he explained how they are using innovative technologies to improve medical triage in disaster events. Afterwards, Györgyi Bela explained the work of HoloZcan on Bio threat detection.
The MELODY project, which was presented by Carlos Rojas Palma, developed a harmonised CBRN training curriculum for first responders, which is already being used in the EU. Per-Erik Johansson from European CBRNE Center then presented the JA TERROR project, which aims to address gaps in the preparedness of the health sector when it comes to CBRN attacks.
Last but not least, Tom Flynn presented the PEERS project, which is creating a community of users that includes practitioners, researchers and standaradisation bodies in the field of Disaster Risk Reduction and CBRNe.
Following this, a session was dedicated to a training workshop for the PROACTIVE Communication toolkit, which is made up of a web platform and mobile app enabling both citizens and practitioners to exchange information about CBRN incidents. Garik Markarian from RINISOFT led the training and also held an interactive booth throughout the event, where participants had the opportunity to try out the web platform for themselves!
After the discussion session, the conference continued with a fruitful discussion between eNOTICE, PROACTIVE and PANDEM-2 on the transferable lessons from the CBRNe domain to pandemics, and vice versa. Of note are the presentations from PROACTIVE partners Dale Weston from UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and Andreas Arnold from the German Police University (DHPol).
Dale Weston explained how decades of research in the field of public health have culminated in the PROACTIVE project. He further described how the PROACTIVE findings, which lead to an approach to emergency preparedness and response focused on accurate communication, understanding factors associated with behaviour, and working to minimise barriers while maximizing facilitators, were taken into account by UKHSA as part of their work on Covid-19.
Next, Andreas Arnold further explained how PROACTIVE interviews with CBRNe practitioners showed practitioners believed the raised awareness around pandemic appropriate behaviours, like masking, would help the public be better prepared for other CBRNe threats. You can read the full interview results in the PROACTIVE deliverable D2.5 – Final Report on common approaches of CBRNe Practitioners.
Following this, PROACTIVE project coordinator Grigore Havarneanu from the International union of Railways moderated an engaging session focusing on key exploitable results and recommendations from all three projects.
In this session, Laura Petersen, PROACTIVE Dissemination Manager, also from the International Union of Railways, explained the PROACTIVE Core Recommendations, encouraged uptake of the PROACTIVE Crisis Communication System, discussed the Policy Making Toolkit, shared several key results: Aide Memoire for training exercises involving vulnerable persons, the PROACTIVE Ethical Framework and our Pre-Incident Information Materials. Lastly, she presented the lessons learned when PROACTIVE engaged with its Civil Society Advisory Board and its Practitioner Stakeholder Advisory Board.
The conference concluded with a panel on long-term exploitation, which was moderated by Philippe Quevauviller from DG HOME. PROACTVE partner Richard Amlôt from UKHSA mentioned that engagement with the general public, and especially with vulnerable groups, adds value to CBRNe preparedness and that this lesson will be taken forward within UKHSA after PROACTIVE ends.
The conference continued for a third day which was dedicated solely to project PANDEM-2, delving deeper into their specific contributions and achievements. Throughout, PANDEM-2 partners emphasized the significance of the work carried out by PROACTIVE in promoting the inclusion of vulnerable groups in CBRN preparedness. Additionally, they highlighted that the outcomes generated by PROACTIVE will be used to enhance the preparedness and response to pandemics within EU member states.
We extend our heartfelt gratitude to all the participants. We would like to especially thank all the speakers from the PROACTIVE consortium for sharing the results from over four years of hard work. This three day event was an amazing opportunity to work closely with two other EU funded projects and really showcase the synergies between our work. We’d like to therefore also thank the contributors from other projects for their invaluable collaboration.
For those who couldn’t attend, fret not! All the conference presentations are available for your perusal at this link: https://www.cmine.eu/networks/events/114216/page/presentations
Additionally, you can catch the recordings of the three-day event on YouTube through the following links:
Day 1 (First part) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubq6Y-F5_i0
Day 1 (Second part) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdw3afPMlIA
Day 2 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUDEXNeQtgk
Day 3 (Only PANDEM-2) –https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1s6fnv-672k