Minutes of second EFRIM meeting


Minutes second EFRIM Meeting June 30 and July 1 The Hague The Netherlands

European cooperation of innovation managers of first responder organizations

“EFRIM give the European first responders a voice”

EFRIM is a platform for European First Responder Innovation managers. The final goal is to improve the safety and security of the European society. To do so the tri services should improve their cooperation to facilitate the first responder in the street to better deal with new threats and the change in society. Moreover EFRIM could better influence the European safety and security agenda. “Industry and knowledge centres are much better organized to deal with European projects. First responders should improve their organization to maximize to outcome of the EU projects. Elle de Jonge of the National Police says: We are going to change that and want to realize more end-user driven projects. The Dutch, Belgium and German first responders and Infopol are amongst the initiators of the EFRIM platform. June 30 and July 1 EFRIM had their second meeting in The Hague.


EFRIM by Elle de Jonge.

EFRIM sees a strong need for a more balanced position of the end users in the European safety and security domain. A lot of the European tri services struggle with the sub optimal participation in European R&D projects. Quite often the services are asked to participate in a project at a later stadium or at the end of a project as that is a requirement of the European Commission. Very rare the responders are involved from the start of the project. Industry and knowledge centres are more dominant in that phase. As a result the solutions are often shelved, as they don’t meet the fundamental requirements of first responders in the street. EFRIM wants to help European First responder organizations to voice their needs and share their expertise with the projects in a structured way from the start of the projects. According to De Jonge the unique aspect of the EFRIM network is that although the organization is structured, the meetings are informal and open to intrinsically motivated people. The boss does not send us but we rather want to be part of the network to work on a shared ambition.

Beside improving the position of the first responders in Europe, EFRIM brings together innovation managers of the first responder organizations to share knowledge and stimulate cooperation on innovation or research projects to better anticipate on incidents and changes in the society. Special interest groups(SIG) work out specific theme’s and activities. For example the tri services of Belgium and the Netherlands will start a special interest group RPAS. Other European countries can participate in this SIG. Michiel Poppink of Instituut Fysiek Veiligheid, one of the co-founders of EFRIM, is happy with the outcome of the EFRIM meeting in The Hague. It is all about improving the safety and security of the European citizens. With that end goal in mind we have to work on how to improve the service of the first responder organizations.  We want to reduce the fragmented landscape of these organizations and see how we could better coordinate activities by bringing together these entities. This will make the tri services more efficient and more effective.

A new vision for the Dutch Fire Service by Ricardo Weewer.

The Dutch Fire Service invests a lot of time and money in innovation and research at the moment. About 5 years ago, a lot of  projects to improve certain aspects of the organisation and the performance  were going on. It became almost impossible to manage. Therefore the Dutch board of chief fire officers developed a vision for 2040. In his presentation, Ricardo Weewer, professor of Fire Service Science at the Dutch Fire Service Academy gave an update on the developments in The Netherlands: “innovations are an important part of that vision. Beside technical innovation the focus is on product, cultural, organisational and financial innovation.  One of the key innovations is the strategic doctrine for fire safety. We have discovered that fire safety is not only achieved by fire fighting but there had to be more attention on fire prevention..

Research and innovation
In 2008 three fire fighters died while on duty. That led to a big change within the Dutch Fire Service organization. We came to the conclusion that the fires changed in time due to the use of new materials in buildings while our procedures were still the same. In case of a fire, we enter the building to fight the fire. We call that offensive inside attack. If we can’t enter a building, we try to minimize the damage and prevent the fire spreading to other buildings. This is what we call defensive outside attack. We added two new forms of fire attacks to that. The first is offensive outdoor attack in which the fire fighters improve the tenable conditions and prevent the fire to spread outside the building. The fire is attacked from the outside without going inside but how do you do that? We don’t have equipment for that and we haven’t much experience with that. Therefor we focus our research and innovation on this tactic. The second tactic is the defensive inside attack. With this tactic we try to prevent the fire spread to other buildings. To do this we are looking for new innovative technologies. Innovation without knowledge of fire dynamics and fire spread is impossible according to Weewer. Therefore the Dutch fire service has developed a multi year research and innovation program that fits the strategic vision on the fire service in the year 2040. One of the innovations that has already been developed is the Quadrant Model for Building fires. Research is, amongst other topics, aimed at the development of techniques to attack fires from outside.

999EYE by Warren Melia

A emergency call indicates two fire fighter trucks are needed. Arriving at the incident the fire fighters immediately requested for 8 more trucks. Warren Melia of the West Midlands Fire Service described this event for which the Fire service attracted a lot of criticism: we haven’t sent enough trucks. Everybody agreed on that.  If we have had the right information, this wouldn’t have happened. The 999EYE project was developed to improve the allocation of the right information. West Midlands Fire Service has developed a smartphone system that would allow people making 999 calls to stream video directly to operators and give them a first-hand glimpse of the scene to better determine what response is needed. The 999eye system will be an “enhancement” to the existing 999 system, for use when operators believe they could gather more useful information from seeing the scene themselves. The video stream can be initiated during a normal phone call via a special SMS.
“999EYE” brings us a step closer with the situational awareness and command & control” says Melia. Moreover it helps us in a joint first responder operation. Due to this project the tri services have the same images of the incident which improves the interoperability.  The information allocation project 999EYE uses command and control software Panda from the US. The despatch centre streams the  images to the devices of first responders who are at the location of the incident. At these devices the first responders have geographic information like maps, which are automatic updated. It is also possible to plot a certain area in case of CBRN threat. A first responder who enters that area will be warned automatically by the system.

Interoperability project JESIP by Carl Daniels.

“First responder organisations are there to save lives” says Carl Daniels, Deputy Senior Responsible Officer of the Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Program (JESIP). The 2005 London bombings, floods and Cumbria shootings make it very clear that interoperability amongst the emergency services needs to be improved. This improvement is the aim of  JESIP. Daniels states “Interoperability should be routine”. The JESIP Programme introduced new ways of working, underpinned by key principles to develop that routine. It is mainly a culture program. A report collating the interoperability lessons from a number of inquiries and reviews into major incidents over the past three decades stated: lessons identified from the events are not being learned to the extent that there is sufficient change in both policy and practice to prevent their repetition.  We don’t adjust and synchronise our processes and procedures. Therefore we first developed joint doctrine for Emergency Services: the interoperability framework. It is the bedrock for present and future joint working. In order to help increase use of commonly understood language within the emergency responders, the Civil Protection Lexicon was adopted and developed with a view to defining and clarifying the terminology used within the emergency response sector.  Moreover we developed one decision making model for all emergency services.

One of the most important parts of JESIP is the testing and exercising. In one year we trained over 11.000  emergency service commanders and around 1600 control room staff.  The training  is delivered in a multi-agency environment with representatives of all the emergency services present., which further improves the interoperability.  A further 50.000+ first responders have completed the e-learning packages for first responders and Commanders.

To deliver this training JESIP developed a network of  540 interoperability trainers who were licensed  to deliver JESIP courses, with validation of the training being provided through 24 days of live exercise. Interoperable working has to be fundamentally ingrained in the culture. Therefor training is very important and cooperation has to be the golden standard. Other JESIP tools are the  website (www.jesip.org.uk/) which is currently being redesigned and an APP will be launched in around Sept/Oct 2015.

To ensure that lessons do become learnt, JESIP has developed a secure Application for Joint Organizational Learning which enables responders to share lessons and notable practice anonymously.  This is a real boost for the project. Discovering problems and implementing solutions is very important. Daniels doesn’t talk about “best practices” but rather like to use “notable practices”. He explains: “A good practice might work very good in one part of the country but might not work in the other part of the country”. Therefor we focus on the used principles. “Use those principles and translate them to your situation”.

Within the UK JESIP is widely recognized the support of the relevant government departments and the professional associations, linked with an appetite at the ground level has contributed to its success.  Strategic support is vital as they are the decision makers, however critical to the success is to provide a clear vision, good management of expectations, robust communication and efficient stakeholder management.

Community of Users by Philippe Quevauviller

Mr. Quevauviller works for the DG Home of the European Commission. He came to the EFRIM workshop to support this initiative. He wants to further improve research programming, in particular the Security Research Program in the area of disaster risk reduction, by bringing together science, industry, governments and first responders. He sees a big role for the emergency services. Although there is a will to get the first responders involved, at this moment they are not well represented in EU projects. There is a obligation to get the first responders involved to get funding for research projects but in fact they don’t have an active role as users. As a result, the outcome of these research projects is rarely interesting for the emergency services and developed technologies are rarely purchased by them. This is a waste of money paid by the taxpayer. The Security Research Program intends to empower the position of the end users and to develop a work program in such a way it provides solutions to problems the first responders are facing. First Responder’s involvement is needed from the start of the programs until the end when results are to be tested in operational situations. DG home is thinking about helping to network existing training centers to be used for testing and possibly validating technologies and methods issued from research. This initiative could enable first responders to test technologies in such networked centers.  Quevauviller is very positive about the EFRIM initiative because it really represents the operational first responders, which is not necessarily the case of participants in EU projects at this stage.  A platform like EFRIM is from the first responders, is a bottom up and can help to bring forward representatives for all kinds of specific subjects. That is what is needed. The European Commission cannot work without your involvement. Through EFRIM you can voice your needs in Europe.

EFRIM works by Koen Depreytere:
“EFRIM was initiated in Belgium and the Netherlands” explains Koen Depreytere of the Infopol Foundation. The Infopol exhibition in Kortrijk brings together government, knowledge centres and the enterprises.  Together with Michiel Poppink he developed the idea to involve the first responder organizations, empowering their position and develop the dialogue with a focus on developing solutions the European First Responder organizations are really looking for.

The German Perspective by Marius Halbach:
Marius Halbach of  the German Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) is an enthusiastic ambassador of the EFRIM platform. He sees quite often there is too much talking instead of real action to solve problems. Our people in the street have to take important decisions in a split second. If they have a problem, it should be solved swiftly. He sees EFRIM as a platform helping the first responders to articulate their needs and to give them a position in the national and international research and innovation programs. “Through EFRIM I found new contacts within the Dutch first responder network for a EU project we are working on. That is tangible proof EFRIM works.”

Discussion on how to further develop the EFRIM organization and the EFRIM Lead Group by Michiel Poppink.

During the discussion the group expressed their wish to develop EFRIM from an informal group into a formal structured organization to establish and accommodate informal networking and participants.
EFRIM should develop a close relation with the Community of Users of the European Union. It should be a clearinghouse for information sharing, organize conferences and cooperate in end-user driven(EU) projects(research, purchase). EFRIM could establish Special Interest Groups related to subjects like interoperability, UAV’s etc.  First responders of 5 countries signed the letter of support.

Please find two videos giving you an impression of the workshop and about EFRIM. Presentations and more information will be available upon request.

By Martin Bobeldijk, Turnaround Communicatie

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