Category Archives: Geen categorie

Chemical suicide, a new phenomenon and a threat to the first responder

 Dear Sir / Madam,

A relatively new approach to suicide – using toxic gases generated by the combination of consumer products or common household chemicals – has become more prevalent in recent years. The vapors, especially when trapped in an enclosed space, may exist in concentrations that can be hazardous to first responders and others.

EFRIM teams up with the First Responders from UK, Belgium and France to reach out the European first responder community to ask for attention for this new threat to the first responders.
‘The Scottish Approach’
Douglas Stirling from the Scottish Police says: ” As we have seen more and more these incidents occur in the UK we have identified the critical need for us to inform not only the specialists but also our first responders of the dangers presented at such incidents. Whilst we have commenced a UK wide guidance process we feel the need to now develop practical training packages that can be delivered to all emergency services responders.”Sharing knowledge and joined training:
Colleague Andy Jones add to this: we will launch a training for Police, Fire Fighters and Paramedics in November this year. We would like to get in touch with other European colleagues to discuss their experiences with chemical suicides. What are their problems? How did they solved them? How did they train their staff? How can we help each other? How can we share information etc.

Special interest group:
If interested, we would like to welcome you to come over to the training and get actively involved in developing an European special interest group around the threat of “household” chemicals to first responders. We will focus on chemical suicide but are open to discuss other threats like fentanyl drugs and acid attacks.


On behalf of the EFRIM team:
Douglas Sterling
Head of Unit
SMARTEU(Scottish Multi-Agency Resilience Training & Exercise Unit)
Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Headquarters and National Training Centre


Outcome of 5th EFRIM Exchange of experts meeting

Minutes of day 1, April 5th 2017

12:00 – 12:30 Arrival, registration and lunch

12:30 – 12:40  Start of the meeting and welcome

ü  Elle de Jonge (chief inspector of the Dutch National Police) and Michiel Poppink (secretary of EFRIM) welcomes everyone to the 5th EFRIM meeting;ü  Elle de Jonge chairs the meetings for the next two days;

The presentation of Elle: What is the status of interoperability in Europe?

  • Due to international developments there is a strong need for cross border cooperation between the first responder organizations in Europe;
  • The European Tri Services are fragmented and don’t have a joint European approach;
  • The industry and research centres are much better organized in Europe and have more influence on the European innovation programs;
  • EFRIM is a bottom up peer-to-peer platform for European first responders to:
    • Share knowledge;
    • Create special interest groups around certain themes;
    • Articulate our needs;
    • Voice the needs of the first responders to the national and European authorities;
    • A link to the EFRIM video clip;
    • Join the tendering to buy special equipment.
  • With this improved joined approach, the participation of the first responders could be improved and the outcome of these projects would meet the requirements of the first responders in the street;
  • Interoperability could be defined as a measure of the degree to which various organizations or individuals are able to operate together to achieve a common goal;
  • Department of Homeland Security and CITIG developed both interoperability approach and model. A link to the CITIG video clip;
  • If first responders in Europe could adept to an international standard, the cooperation with first responders in other areas like Asia, USA and Canada could be easily improved.
  • We could see these models as a starting point and possibly amend them to the European situation;
  • Elle brought two printed versions of the CITIG interoperability continuum, which he put on the wall. He asks all participants to plot their own country at these pictures to create a general picture where countries are when it comes to interoperability. This and the outcome of the interoperability survey from Rob Testelmans could help to voice the need for improving interoperability in Europe.

12:50 – 13:20 “Interoperability and the management of major incidents and disasters” Jean Paul Monet, Lieutenant Colonel from the French Fire Service

Presentation Jean Paul Monet:

  • There is a change in natural and man-made incidents. Climate change brings more bush fires, floods and hurricanes while there is a constant threat of terrorism.
  • In the same time, new technical possibilities like social media and unmanned systems (for example) introduce some new needs for incident commanders, in order to discriminate relevant strategic information.
  • The US Incident Command System (ICS) was developed several decades ago to deal with forest fires and natural hazards. After 9/11 the concept was widely spread in the US;
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency is responsible for organizing, teaching and training the first responders in the US;
  • Together with his colleagues Jean Paul compared the incidents command systems of the US to EU ones. A paper will be translated from French into English and will be distributed as soon as possible;
  • The scale of operations and the approach are different. For type 1 (major) incidents the US has a team of 46 persons available within 48 hours at the incident;
  • The US approach strongly focuses on dealing with logistic (sleeping, eating etc.), planning and finance (accountant on site);
  • For long lasting incidents these Incident Management Teams are working in cycles of 24 hours, giving briefings each 24 hours and planning for the next 24hrs;
  • Jean Paul would like to respect the existing national European systems, the sovereignty of each country in combination with the enrichment of those systems with the strong elements from the American system, and an integration at EU level;
  • The European Civil Protection Mechanism is based on modularity but not to replace the crisis management team during long lasting incidents.
  • Having a similar approach would even allow to replace the exhausted crisis management team by (inter)national colleagues;
  • Having such an interoperable system in place allows first responders to assist their international colleagues across the globe in case of major incidents and to be fully connectable with others (continents) teams.
  • These changes in command organization could be integrated and taught by the European Civil Protection Mechanism.

13:20 – 13:50 “Scottish interoperability training” by Douglas Sterling, Head of Unit Scottish Multi-Agency Resilience Training & Exercise Unit Service SMARTEU

Presentation Douglas Sterling:

  • Traditionally the tri services in Scotland were highly fragmented. Due to the shift to a single service a joint training program was put in place;
  • SMARTEU started to combine training and exercises for Police, Fire brigade and Ambulance service. This helps to identify gaps, lack of knowledge and created friendships on all levels;
  • The direct feed back and the attendance of representatives of the government at a large exercise helped to get a strategic buy in;
  • Douglas reports directly to the board of chief officers which helps to change for instance SOP’s easily if needed;
  • Smarteu created one training course using one language which improves efficiency, interoperability and the use of a similar language;
  • There is standard debriefing strategy with a tri service logist trained in the same way and using the same rational;
  • Currently there is a strong focus on developing a cross agency strategic leadership course and a Scottish Emergency Response Team;
  • In the SERT the tri services work closely together with other organizations like local authorities, Red Cross to get an integrated approach improving on logistic and technical assistance;
  • On the technical site they see there is a shift to massive data processing. Getting involved in innovation projects they saw the academia and industry developing technology for the first responders not knowing what the first responders are looking for. Due to their involvement there is a change to the project where the companies and academia are more listening to the needs of the first responders;
  • Douglas sees a big role for EFRIM to facilitate the general articulation of the needs from the first responders and get the industry and Academia to solve these issues;

The model: Elle shows the interoperability models.

13:50 – 14:20 Dutch approach, Speaker to be confirmed Bart van Leeuwen _ innovation security and safety –

  • Bart is both a fireman in Amsterdam and the CEO of Netage;
  • He fears something will happen to him or his colleague that later is find out that there was data which could have prevented the incident to happen but was not provided in time to the fire fighter;
  • Currently the information provided to the fire fighters about building is unstructured, not well connected and is too much;
  • To deal with this, available data should be linked in a better way and provided more easily;
  • He introduced a concept that could solve this issue to his boss but his boss said that he doesn’t need it. Bart was so angry that he decide to developed it by his self and started his own company;
  • The problem is that within the safety and security domain there is a lot of implicit terminology within the same organizations and amongst the other first responder organizations;
  • To define terms Bart co-developed the This is an open electronic dictionary to give definitions for terms used in the Dutch first responder community;
  • Data systems for all disciplines have to speak the same language and have the same definitions and symbols.
  • Maps: border to border; understand what is on the map – nobody used this because the icons are very different in every department, organization and country.
  • Bart developed a system in which open data is linked and the meaning of the data behind the map is exposed so that everybody can easily understand the meaning of it;
  • Symbols or icons are translated so that cross border cooperation could be facilitated;
  • Bart is member of the “W3C Spatial data on the web working group” to clarify and formalize the relevant standards for publicly available data for the fire service standards on the web.
  • Bart will send the paper with the definitions to the EFRIM community
  • The word “critical” on a map of the water infrastructure people means something else then “critical” by the fire brigade. We don’t speak the same language although we were all Dutch people;
  • He is creating a public available open standard on the web, for all the disciplines. OGC making location count with W3C;
  • Concerning innovation culture in the Netherlands Bart thinks this culture must change. Innovation projects in the Netherlands may are not allowed to fail– the managers don’t want to be responsible for failure. The procedures of innovation have to change in the Netherlands. Elle thinks that innovation is not allowed to succeed. Cross Border and Cross agency.

14:20 – 15:00 Coffee & Networking
15:00 – 15:30 “Vision on interoperability in Belgium” Rob Testelmans, Head of General Management and emergency planning, Municipality of Geel, Belgium

Presentation Rob Testelmans

  • Rob works as a contingency manager at the Municipality of Geel in the Province of Antwerp and is doing research for his study at Campus Vesta on the state of interoperability in Belgium;
  • Starting point was the first shared building for Police and Fire Service in Belgium;
  • 2 control rooms of the fire brigade and the police room to share the information quicker, but they started to focus more on themselves;
  • Interoperable services are capable of communicating and understanding each other, they work together, build up capacity and jointly reach common goals and gives answer to how well the first responders work together as a matter of routine;
  • CITIG, DHS, NATO, JESIP and SMARTUE are examples of interoperability projects;
  • Security clusters principals imply interoperability by sharing standards, joint teams, joint procurements and joint strategy.
  • Focus points of interoperability are:
    • Technical Interoperability’s (communication standards, demand driven technology);
    • Organizational Interoperability (difficult because of egos, cultural differences), Information sharing (standard operating procedures Y joint processes);
    • Semantical Interoperability (same language and symbols);
  • Becoming interoperable is complex. The Interoperability continuum is a handy tool. It gives a good indication where you are and what road is ahead; This continuum is much focussed on the technical interoperability;
  • Rob has send out the survey to the gold commanders of the Flemish local and federal police, fire department, civil protection agency, contingency and disaster services, the federal crisis centre and the medical and ambulance services with 126 responses;
  • Some key results are:
    • More then half of them meet more then 12 times per year;
    • 95% agrees to a framework for shared procedures and processes;
    • There is an informal coordination and with the use of a national program the coordination could be improved;
    • The answers show a phase 2 for SOP’s with some elements of phase 3.
    • Phase 2 for training and education as 46% say they only train once per year with other organizations and all first responders recognize the importance of training together. The inquiry commission on the terrorist attacks recommends more multi organizational trainings in Belgium;
    • Between phase 1 and phase 2 for usage as 77% hasn’t participated in a joint purchase of technology although there are some recent examples. Half of the first responders say the technology is not entirely adapted to the specific needs of the organizations, there are very few joint standards and technology is often supply driven;
    • Phase 2 for organizational development. Exercises and incidents are evaluated but there is little focus on lessons learned and it has a mono disciplinary approach;
    • Phase 2 and 3 within reach for information sharing. Metrasso helps streamlining the flow of information while legal barriers permits free sharing of data;
    • Between phase 1 and 2 for usage dimension. In Belgium there is a strong multi organizational planning for festivals so 74% says they are interoperable for planned events. However 71% being interoperable in local events is surprise to Rob. Belgium just launched their incident and crisis management system it could help them further in the usage dimension;
    • The Herald of Free enterprise disaster of 1987 in Zeebrugge gave the first push for multi disciplinary thinking. The Brussel terrorist attack showed again the need for more interoperability. Several hurtles must be taken like more formal agreements on joint procedures, more standardization, more joint training and development of a common culture and structure;
  • Two best practices in Belgium are:
    • IBOBBO – is writen by Ilse van Mechelen and it helps to streamline the decision making process on a strategic, operational and policy level.
    • Metraso is a building block usable for any 1st responder organization arriving first on the scene. It improves interoperability for first responders and allows control rooms to get a good image of the incident.

Elle thanks Rob and he shares the need of semantical interoperability. He invites Rob to put post-it’s on the continuum where he thinks Belgium’s the status of interoperability is. When the others will do this for their country, we can compare the countries and give our governments an indication where we stand with interoperability in Europe.

Rob has been using the questionnaire from JESIP. JESIP has done two of these questionnaires in England and Wales to measure the effectiveness of their training. Rob Testelmans and Michiel Poppink are working together with Sergio Felguiras, Sonia Morgado and Lucai Pais from the Police Academy of Lisbon to make some amendments to the questionnaire. We will share the questions with the participants so they can get a feeling for the questions, check if they want to participate in this questionnaire and see if they need to make some amendments to it. In general the participants see the value of evaluating what the status of interoperability is in their country and in Europe. It is key to have strategic support or tell the strategic level you are at a certain level and you need to improve on several issues. Top down in combination with bottom up could be a good combination in this process. Rob’s work shows the current status of interoperability and gives recommendations to his government.

To voice the need for interoperability several obstacles and approaches are discussed.

Several obstacles are:

  • Risk reverse or closed cultures of first responder organizations;
  • Fragmented structures of organizations;
  • The gap between perceived level of interoperability and actual level of interoperability;
  • The seize of the country;

Possible approaches to improve interoperability are:

  • A combination of top-down and bottom up approach;
  • Invite higher level/politicians to visit multi disciplinary exercises to inform them about the gaps of what is going right and wrong;
  • Giving presentation about interoperability by EFRIM at the Community of Users meeting Q4 2017.

Bestand 29-05-17 16 30 33Bestand 29-05-17 16 30 3315:30 – 16:00 “Interoperability Continuum model DHS” Elle de Jonge, Chief Inspector Dutch National Police followed by a group discussion and the closing remarks for day 1.

  • The group splits up in 2 smaller groups witch each a poster size interoperability continuum model.
  • They are asked to plot post-its where their first responder services are concerning interoperability in their countries.
  • There is a discussion about:
    • Do we need to improve interoperability for all types of incidents;
    • The difference of importance of different sub elements of the continuum;
    • Scotland benefits very much from first focussing on multi disciplinary training & exercises to prove to senior level the importance of interoperability;
    • Technology and usage seems to follow the others.

Agenda day 2
April 6th 2017

8:45 – 9:00 making of group picture in front of the hotel
Photo is taken with the camera of Rob (Belgium)

9:15 – 9:45 Workshop: “How can we help our governments to improve interoperability?”

Michiel started the discussion about how to reach your government to improve the Interoperability

  • Italy and Scotland –try to reach their government more bottom up
  • Scotland: after the bombing incident in London the minister came to talk with the emergency during multidisciplinary training and was impressed. She saw the importance of the way they work and brought it to the parliament.
  • Germany has a very complicated structure.
  • A network with colleagues in Europe is very important to make a progress.
    We have to send a letter to the governments to bring the importance of interoperability in Europe of the threat of terrorism.

10:30 – 11:00 “How could EFRIM help to improve interoperability?” Michiel Poppink, Dutch Safety Institute

Michiel advice is to spread out the lesson learned and the best practices of what we already do. And how we can save lives if we work together.

  • EFRIM should facitilitate sharing information about incidents, best practices and lessons learned;
  • In Belgium and Scotland sharing knowledge about chemical suicides helped first responders to create a multi agency approach and to protect the first responders for the threat of the chemicals;
  • Scotland would like to develop a “proces” to share knowledge across the first responders in Europe. It would be very helpful if general feed back of for instance terrorist attacks would be shared across the services. Although specific information is difficult to share, more generic information could be shared;
  • Mayors of European cities will have a conference in Edingburgh. We might want to voice the need for interoperability;
  • Somebody explains ICC ( ?)in Brussel is such an European platform to exchange info, but it seems only few use it. ICC analyses the big incidents in the world like weather alarms, fires, flooding- they share the analyses of the incidents with Europe;
  • Develop a process to adopt and develop a cross border scenario for a multidisciplinary training with other countries. Use the standards that already be used and try expand the standardization and spread the knowledge;
  • Sharing information should be starting small, with small stories, briefings or a 1 chapter with bullets email or a drawing or a short film. We have to brainstorm with creative people about what is the best way to share and to reach the target audience;
  • In Italy they sharing data within 24 hours to the first responders;
  • We have to make a sharp and short paper about interoperability and to get attention from the higher level;
  • In these two days we have to look where we stand with our countries, but EFRIM have to expand. Other countries should be involved. Sweden expressed their interested to join.
  • We have to make a list of meetings and congresses where all countries of Europe are presented and we have to try to get EFRIM at the agenda.

Presentation Italy Davide Pozzi
The presentation is how the fire department works on major incidents like Earthquakes. In Italy the police shares only a little information with the other first responders. Davide Pozzi, from Italian home office, gave a very interesting speech on data sharing through a specific process, CAP items and a data encapsulation protocol called EDXL. The discussion is about building trust amongst your first responder partners to share information. Belgium is running against some legal limitations. For example medical information is difficult to share. Hospitals don’t give information about their patients. There are laws that make it impossible to share information.

Presentation of Jan Willem Westerhof, student of the Police Academy in Holland. He

  • Jan Willem made a synopsis of the meeting so far;
  • Definitions of interoperability may vary but the core is cooperation between organizations which creates more then the individual parts;
  • Semantics plays a big role;
  • We can learn from the interoperability examples from Scotland, Italy, Belgium;
  • Benefits are clear to the first responders but the advantages should be calculated and presented to our governments to make it more clear why interoperability is so important;
  • Make a top down plan with monitoring and evaluation components;
  • High standards of communications is important;
  • The yellow sticky notes let us see where we stand;
  • Work together to form universal Interoperability.

Presentation Laura Birkman – Security affairs –Ecorys research and consulting

  • 2014 DG Home took the initiative to launch the Community of Users to improve the communication around innovation research in general.
  • Community of Users on Secure, Safe and Resilient Societies responds to the realization by the EC that the transfer of information from the Researchers to the users was not effective;
  • The landscape is very complex and fragmented as there are so many different projects and initiatives which limits the impact of these initiatives;
  • As there are so much different policy area’s there is a need to more integrated management of all this and combine the different initiatives and projects by the European Commission.
  • There are a lot of European Programs but there is a limited participation of the practitioners;
  • A mechanism should be designed to create a better interface for a more effective communication between the EU, the policymakers, the practitioners, the researchers and industry.
  • The Community of Users is mainstreaming and combining a broad scope of various thematic areas in a “community” and an information management system so that various players can find tailor made information which fits their needs;
  • The CoU brings together various thematic expert groups and to communicate via policy briefs about they are developing and visa versa;
  • CoU improves the way the information is distributed to motive the involvement of the practitioners;
  • To ensure these exchanges of information between policy makers, researchers and practitioners are ensured the objectives of the CoU are:
    • Create a physical space to meet people in person on a regular basis to deal with a variety of topics like CBRNE, Crisis management, border control and standardization;
    • Improve the synergies between all initiatives, dimensions and databases;
    • To make it easier for industry and end users to know if it is suitable for them to bring it to the market or to start using the outcome of the research program by showing what is the technology readiness level(TRL). This information will be brought together on a new and easy accessible website;
    • Enhance the involvement of practitioners both practitioners who already participate in consortia but also for other practitioners who are not involved yet. The idea is to make it easier for practitioners to meet at a national level and communicate with relevant sub communities that can represent their interest at the CoU if they can’t visit themselves. Practitioners are invited to join the CoU meeting in September to voice their needs;
  • H2020 consortia should have at least 4 or 5 practitioners;
  • Elle de Jonge shares with the audience that EFRIM will be give a presentation about Interoperability at a DH Home meeting later 2017.
  • Jean Paul is asking Laura about the formal status of CoU. Laura explains that it is an informal platform. Laura advice EFRIM to come to the Community of Practice(sub group of experts) meeting in May and explain the importance of interoperability.
  • Jean Paul wish if it would be possible for the commission identify in the research topics what is security and what is safety.

11:45 – 12:00 “Conclusions & next steps for EFRIM 5 exchange of experts” Elle de Jonge, Dutch National Police:

  • EFRIM is trying to get at the agenda of all kind of European meetings and conferences. To give a presentation about EFRIM and the importance about interoperability. Spread the word
  • We have to decide which model we are going to use; (for example the American model or Rob his model)
  • Important things is to do: inform your governance, organize multi –trainings and SOP (is related to the training) and Semantics to speak the same language.
  • The sticky notes on the model – the most notes where to the right, but that is based on our own reference. The actuality it’s more to the left.
  • Issues to solve:
    Sharing information between Fire brigade, Police and medical world, because of trust, legal, culture and language problems.
  • Cross borders – Alert protocol, multi-channel, sharing mechanism
  • We bring the police academy of Holland in contact with the police academy of portugal to work on a questionnaires’’. England a d Belgium has already a questionaries’ Is is good to move forward with the police academies.
  • We are invited for the Communication meeting about the Website
    Action point Laura: Elle is giving a presentation about EFRIM in Talin – Laura will remind Bosco to confirm this.

12:00 – Close & Lunch before departure





Dear Sir, Madam,

The 5th European First Innovation Managers exchange of experts will take place on April 5th and 6th in Nootdorp, The Netherlands. Please find below the agenda for this workshop.

Hope to welcome you at this EFRIM exchange of experts in Nootdorp.

Kind regards
Hans Versnel and Elle de Jonge

Agenda day 1
April 5th 2017

12:00 – 12:30 Arrival, registration and lunch

12:30 – 12:40 Welcome Elle de Jonge, Chief inspector Dutch National Police

12:40 – 12:50 Introduction to the EFRIM platform, Peter Duin, Researcher Dutch   National Police

What is the status of interoperability in Europe?

12:50 – 13:20 “Interoperability and the management of major incidents and disasters ” Jean Paul Monet, Lieutenant Colonel from the French Fire Service

13:20 – 13:50 “Scottish interoperability training” by Douglas Stirling, Head of Unit Scottish Multi-Agency Resilience Training & Exercise Unit Service SMARTEU

13:50 – 14:20 Dutch approach, Speaker to be confirmed

14:20 – 15:00 Coffee & Networking
15:00 – 15:30 “Vision on interoperability in Belgium” Rob Testelmans, Head of General Management and emergency planning, Municipality of Geel, Belgium

15:30 – 16:00 “Interoperability Continuum model DHS” Elle de Jonge, Chief Inspector Dutch National Police

16:00 – 16:30 Group discussion on the aim and approach of an “EU Interoperability questionnaire”

16:30 – 17:30 Workshop “Interoperability assessment and articulating needs for your organization”

17:35 – 17:50 Conclusions & closing remarks from day 1, Douglas Stirling, Smarteu

17:50 – Drinks reception
19:30 – Dinner at Van der Valk hotel at own cost, all participants are welcome

Agenda day 2
April 6th 2017

8:45 – 9:00 Making of group picture in front of the hotel

9:15 – 9:45 Workshop: “How can we help our governments to improve interoperability?”

9:45 – 10:30 “H2020 Secure society and interoperability” by EU expert

10:30 – 11:00 “How could EFRIM help to improve interoperability?” Michiel Poppink, Dutch Safety Institute

11:00 – 11:15 Coffee and networking
11:15 – 11:45 Making appointments on special interest groups, concrete actions and development of network

11:45 – 12:00 “Conclusions & next steps for EFRIM 5 exchange of experts” Elle de Jonge, Dutch National Police

12:00 – Close & Lunch before departure

Van der Valk Hotel Nootdorp, the Netherlands
Gildeweg 1
2632BD Nootdorp
Tel:+31 15 310 4545

Information and reservation:
For more information and reservation until March 20th, please contact, +31 6 43911968 or visit


What is the status of interoperability in Europe?

invitation Dear Sir/Madam,

The EFRIM team are pleased to be hosting the 5th European First Responder Innovation Managers forum to be held in Amsterdam on April 5th  and 6th 2017.

What is the status of interoperability in Europe?
The cooperation between the first responder organizations is referred to as interoperability. It is at moments of crisis that the true barriers between the tri services come to the surface: the lack of interoperable communication systems, different terminology and language and failure to properly co-ordinate across the services can significantly hinder the effectiveness of the response and actually exasperate the situation to the detriment of both the public caught up in the incident and those responding.

In a two day exchange of experts we want to assess the current status of interoperability in Europe. How much do the first responder organizations train together in their country and are they able to assist their colleagues across the border? Identify common practices as well as common needs with a view of establishing a joint approach to secure collaborative working in order to improve interoperability and cooperation across services and countries.

Although interoperability is a broad theme, specific subtopics will come out of the discussions. Examples of the subtopics could be: situational awareness, common operational pictures, next generation 911, use of satellites, response to terrorist attacks and improved pan European communications. We welcome papers addressing a variety of interoperability management topcis.

Based on the outcome of this meeting a white paper will be written to be discussed with stakeholders and might be input for proposals of H2020 grants in 2018.

Who should attend?
This is a strategic level forum appropriate for senior managers from emergency response organizations who hold responsibility for, and have experience of, managing innovation.
EFRIM strives to improve the safety of Europe improving interoperability of the first responders/emergency services by understanding how we can deal with common challenges faced by our organizations. By providing a platform for the all services to connect with each other, sharing knowledge, exploring how resources can be coordinated and formulating common goals, EFRIM can help voice common needs to national and European policy makers to synchronize the approach taken and maximize the support available.

To Book
If you would like to attend EFRIM4, please send the following details to

  • Name
  • Job Title / Role
  • Name of Organization
  • Email Address
Places for existing members have already been allocated but limited additional places are available so book now to avoid disappointment. Other places will be allocated on a first come first serve basis. Catering during the event will be provided, please advise us if you have any specific access or dietary requirements.
On behalf of the EFRIM team,

Elle de Jonge                                              Hans Versnel
Chief Inspector                                         Project Manager Innovation
Dutch National Police                             Safety Institute IFV
EFRIM                                                          EFRIM

Steering committee meeting

Dear first responder,

The next EFRIM steering committee meeting will be organized in December 2016. Please find more information about this meeting below:

  • When?
    • We would like to organize the meeting on December 8th. Exact time will be sent out asap.
  • Where?
    • We are trying to find a good location close to Schiphol Airport. We will send out more details about the exact address.
  • Who?
    • Representatives of THW, the Municipality of Geel, the German Police, the Dutch National Police, Institute for Safety and the Police of Scotland.
  • What?
    • The topics on the agenda are:
    • Organizing the Gold Commander meeting which could be organized on March 8th 2017;
    • Developing the EFRIM structure;
    • Terms of reference;
    • Initiating new H2020 proposals;
    • Choosing new EFRIM chairman;
    • How to voice our needs in Brussels;
    • EFRIM program 2017;

Please, let us know what your opinion is and if you have other suggestions.


The EFRIM team



First Responder H2020 network

Afbeelding 3

Dear first responder,

We would like to invite you, first responder/practitioner to participate in a 100% practitioners H2020 network proposal.

Why participating in this call?

It is in our responsibility to deal with natural risks like floods, string rains and storms which are closely connected to technical risks. Too often we don’t have the resources to closely monitor the research and innovation projects to better deal with these risks.


RespondNet focusses on analyzing current research and innovation projects. Together with actual training we develop a clear vision on what our common requirements are, what needs to be developed and how we can improve our performance.

Together with European colleagues we share our projects, lessons learned and articulate our needs for recommendations practitioners like us are looking for to implement.


Together with Police, Fire Services and Paramedics of Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal Norway, Sweden and United Kingdom we have come to a network proposal RespondNet.

About the co‐ordinator vfdb

vfdb or the German Fire Protection association is a non-profit organisation with more than 3000 members working among others in the fields of fire safety, environmental protection and disaster prevention. This network brings together blue light first responders to better deal with new circumstances and new incidents. 

Please contact

OUTCOME OF 4TH EFRIM meeting Flooding

The 4th European First Responder Innovation Managers meeting took place on the 23rd and 24th of February 2016 in Manchester, United Kingdom.

Welcome by Carl Daniels, JESIP UK
Welcome and an introduction to the event to discuss various aspects of flood response, shared challenges and the potential for shared solutions.


Introduction to the EFRIM platform by Peter Duin, researcher at the Dutch National Police.

The EFRIM platform aims to build an informal EU network community for first responders to share information and gain understanding of common issues being faced by first responder organisations across Europe. This in turn could lead to multiple countries working together to develop share knowledge, consider solutions and stimulate innovation.

This peer-to-peer platform will create special interest groups around certain topics. These groups will then develop solutions and voice their needs to the policy makers in the EU and to the research centres and to industry.

Building the EFRIM platform is in the early stages and work is underway to establishing an appropriate structure and appropriate sustainable funding.

How do we respond to floods and what innovations have there been?

German approach by Ansgar Stening, Head of Resource Planning, Joint Operations, Civil protection and research, Rescue Department Gelsenkirchen.

History shows that Germany is faced with flooding threats coming from the sea (1962 Hamburg) and from the rivers like Rhine, Elbe and Oder. The 2013 flood threatened vast areas of about 7 (central) European countries causing severe social and economic damage of about 13 billion euros lost and about 4 billion of insured damage. The 2014 flood in Münster was an exceptional rainfall flood and the current thinking is this may be a new phenomenon caused by climate change.

The command structure of the first responder organisations in Germany is based on 16 federal states with the federal government in Berlin. The tasks of the Federation are carried out by the Federal Ministry of the Interior, by other ministries within their remit, by the Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance and by the Federal Agency of Technical Relief (THW). In case of a flooding, districts and towns are responsible for on-site crisis management. Regional commissioners support the district and could take over the responsibility in case of a major incident but this is very rare. The fire service takes a dominant role in the case of a flooding but the majority of the fire service staff are volunteers. As the German police has a different structure than the fire service, there is a liaison officer coordinating the communication between the services.

Within the German civil protection coastal and inland flood protection are the main drivers. Coastal and inland flood protections have a different approach, have a different responsibility and have different views. In Germany there is no centrally directed training on flood protection and states have their own training. The training is based on a general approach.
In the technical approach (large) pump logistics and sandbag logistics play a dominant role. The Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) can assist with their large pump systems.

Recent floods provided some notable practice. As fire service staff are volunteers, the duration of the floods caused some challenges having to replace volunteers because they had to return to their main jobs. The gathering of information via social media was faster than via official bodies. Operating with mobile command teams/forces worked very well. Incorporating spontaneous helpers raised some crucial questions about how long they can do the work, which tasks can they do and what is needed by the organizations and how best to inform them?

English approach by Nick O’Key

Nick O’key is Area Manager responsible for Risk Management at Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service. Cumbria is a rural county and one of the most sparsely populated in the United Kingdom.

At the end of 2015 the UK experienced the effects of 4 storms in close succession. On 5 December, the Met Office issued a red severe weather warning for rain in Cumbria, with 150 millimetres (5.9 in) to 200 millimetres (7.9 in) expected in some places. This storm was given the name Desmond.

The exceptional heavy rain led to the fire and rescue service deploying a range of flood protection measures including sandbags, 6 high volume pumps (from other parts of the country), 12 type B boats. They used a coordination centre in a local town (Penrith). The news made national headlines and there was a lot of press coverage. Authorities used the media to help reassure the public they were doing everything they could to get the floods under control but also had to call in the army and other civil protection organizations such as the Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association, Bay Search and Rescue service, the Salvation Army and 4×4 volunteers.

In Cumbria over 7000 properties were flooded, one man lost his life and about 18,132 properties were without power. Around 1000 sheep were lost and two bridges washed away which caused significant damage to the main road that runs through the county. Road diversions had to be set up causing a lot of disruption to local residents and the emergency services. Overall the total cost of public sector is currently estimated at £500 million pounds.

The first responder organisations were very happy with the help of the local resilience forum who provided help in a number of ways. . One of the challenges was the number of volunteers that wanted to help along with boats to rescue people, however, there was no way to know if these people were equipped properly and may end up needed rescuing themselves. It was difficult to manage these well-intentioned individuals.

A new system was used during the flood response called SARCAL. This system was developed by the Coastguard and allows resources to be deployed more effectively and provides a continual log of activity and resources.  Use of SARCAL led to more efficient deployment of resources.

Dutch approach by Marcel Matthijsse, Managing director “National Project water crisises and evacuation”
After extensive flooding in 1953 which resulted in 1836 casualties, the Dutch government developed the Delta Plan to shorten the coastline and strengthen the dikes. This plan consisted of a series of construction projects in the southwest of the Netherlands to protect a large area of land around the Rhine and Meuse Scheldt delta from the sea.

Since 1953, the land protected by this work has been built on and communities established on the land, but this has increased levels of vulnerability in this area due to an increase in citizens with less flood awareness. In addition there are interdependent systems and a very complex society. Increased occurrences of flooding along with the latest research has raised awareness of the potential damage caused by floods (health, economy, society and ecology) within the civil protection and infra organizations. They have now started to better prepare for floods. One of the major issues is the need to raise the awareness amongst the Dutch population and improve the resilience.

In the Project Water and Evacuation the Safety Region Councils, the Ministry of Safety and Justice along with the Steering committee of Water Crises and Flooding work together. This project focuses on analysing the direct and indirect risks in the vulnerable areas, they have developed a strategic evacuation decision process, information exchange protocols, increasing self-reliance and developing a common language.

Central in the risk assessment is the multi-layer safety approach. Preventing flooding by enforcing the dikes is the first layer. Realizing 100% prevention is not possible, smart designing of the infrastructure can help to deal with the event of a flood in very extreme conditions and will lower the damage. The third layer is developing an emergency management plan now, which will help authorities decision making when evacuating people either from above (via their attics or by helicopter) or at ground level. If the plan is followed it is anticipated the effects of the flood will be reduced. Part of the emergency management is raising the awareness for flooding and improving the resilience of the community.

The role of the UK Military in flood response & recovery, UK Military Wing Commander Rich Langley OBE RAF

In the UK, military support for civil emergencies can be requested by the local authorities. The standing Joint Commander (SJC) is responsible for command of Ministry of Defence resources when they are deployed to respond to national crisis. Military Aid to the Civil Authorities (MACA) is the collective term used by the Ministry of Defence referring to the operational deployment of the armed forces of the United Kingdom. This support of the civilian authorities helps in areas such as assistance in emergency situations and the maintenance of public order. The military can play a role in preparation, during and with the recovery from flooding.

The military can provide other capabilities such as disposal of explosives, stand by battalions, imagery and aircraft, niche capabilities (helicopters) and other capabilities like divers.  The task of the military is determined in cooperation with the local community, through the local authorities, central government and the Ministry of Defence.

During the recent flooding, the presence of the military was of interest to the national media. This continued focus by the media meant there was awareness of the flooding and its affects were known amongst the public and it did help to ensure further assistance was provided with the recovery operations.

Keith Strickland AD Resilience Training & Doctrine UK Civil Contingencies Secretariat

Making decisions in the early stages of a multi-agency incident is essential and requires reliable information. Sometimes not all the relevant information is available in the early stages of an incident and even then information has to be verified before it can be relied upon. However, when information about the incident is confirmed, it’s important that all relevant parties are aware as quickly as possible. This is why establishing a Common Operating Picture (COP) is important.
Keith discussed the challenges for staff in making decisions about emergency response based on a common operating picture. How many factors can affect what commanders do in these situations until information is verified and fully understood by all.
He discussed that technology can help in terms of gathering or providing information but the key part has to be the interpretation of all information by the people involved in the response. A common platform for information sharing is useful but technology alone cannot be relied upon. Keith provided many examples where language and the incorrect interpretation of it, can actually be a barrier to establishing shared situational awareness. This is not necessarily the fault of an individual or group of individuals but we have to remember the human factor when interpreting data.

Using vague words, abbreviations, unclear graphical representations and sharing information without a clear context can make the process of establishing shared situational awareness very difficult.
As part of the work the Cabinet Office have done to encourage information sharing across communities in the UK, it has developed a platform that can be used to help emergency services and others involved in community resilience. It is called ResilienceDirect and Keith discussed how part of this tool can be used to help responders get an individual situational awareness to a shared situational awareness with a focus on things like terminology, procedures and improved communication. In this process there is a shift from focussing on IT and technology towards people/organisations. In summary it is important to remember that technology and data are enablers, but people and communication between them add meaning.

Information Sharing in a crisis, ResilienceDirect, Luana Avagliano

ResilienceDirect is an online network that enables civil protection practitioners to work together – across geographical and organisational boundaries – during the preparation, response and recovery phases of an event or emergency.

During the Cumbria flooding, ResilienceDirect was used to share information, which was especially useful where bridges were closed and where infrastructure such as main roads were destroyed. The system was able to use a mapping facility to allow local authorities to plan diversions where there were closed roads or bridges. This system also provides information on the extent of the floods including addresses via its aerial images.

The information the system can provide is very useful for local response teams who have to report into the national Government committee that meets when there are national emergencies in the UK. The system can help ensure all involved have a shared understanding about what is happening which helps build a common operational picture and make appropriate response plans.

Facilitated Discussion Flooding – Common Lessons and a way forward, Megan Anderson, University of Leiden

During a workshop Megan Anderson asked the participants to fill in the value proposition canvas model indicating the problem that needs to be solved, the “customers” pain and “the customers” gain. On the other hand the participants could address what EFRIM could do for them, how EFRIM could address the challenges and help to create a gain.

From the discussion, it became apparent some key innovation areas in EU flood management include improved management and coordination strategies for volunteers and third party organisations, better outreach strategies for raising awareness among public and improved evacuation management strategies.

There is significant overlap in terms of challenges in flood response across the UK, Germany and The Netherlands. These challenges include sharing information across organisations and regions, in terms of day-to-day operations and real-time response phases; integration of volunteer groups and ‘spontaneous helpers’ and raising awareness among the public; keeping the public engaged and prepared in between disasters.

Some countries had developed some notable practice with systems or processes to address certain challenge areas. These were of interest and potential inspiration to other countries. For example, Germany has struggled with managing ‘spontaneous volunteers’. The UK has developed an approach to address this in the UK, which provided the German representatives attending with inspiration for a similar volunteer management framework. The Joint Organisational Learning (JOL) concept (launched in the UK in 2015) and its supporting structures and technology were of interest to representatives from other countries struggling with similar issues of failing to learn from past incidents.

EFRIM could be particularly valuable as a mechanism for sharing notable practice and inspiration, and directly linking various stakeholders across particular interest areas. The key benefits that EFRIM could develop include:

  • building connection and coordination of stakeholders both online (website, social media platform)
  • offline network (conferences, networking opportunities, workshops for end-users)
  • facilitation of document/template sharing and compilation of EU notable practice
  • support for calls for funding for end-user driven innovation projects.

Digital technology aiding interoperability, Gavin Young EBY Design

EBY is a design agency helping companies and organizations with connecting their clients to their audience by their design services, develop digital products for effective communication and communicate brand values by providing marketing and PR services.

  • After the initial two year programme, the JESIP website needed re-focus. They had produced the guidance (Joint Doctrine), a range of supporting products and information over the first two years and needed those products to be the focal point of the website.
  • The website and the new mobile app should communicate the five principles of joint working and supporting models. EBY developed an intuitive, functional website communicating the JESIP brand.
    JESIP needed to ensure a broad range of people working in emergency response could understand and apply the guidance JESIP had produced. If JESIP is used by all emergency responders then it would help provide the public with an improved multi-agency response to incidents.

EBY developed a mobile app for JESIP to broaden awareness about JESIP, act as a prompt for staff dealing with incidents and be used as part of refresher knowledge after training.

Why is organisational learning important – why & how can we learn across Europe? Hugh Deeming, Research consultant, HD Research

The aim of the Embrace project is to build resilience to disasters amongst communities in Europe. Resilience can been seen as the capacity of social, economic and environment systems to cope with a hazardous event or trend or disturbance, responding or reorganizing in ways that maintain their essential function, identity and structure, while also maintaining the capacity for adaptation learning and transformation.

Within the context of change and disturbance the EMBRACE team developed a disaster risk governance model based on learning (e.g. risk/loss perception, critical reflection), actions (e.g. civil protection and social protection) resources and capacities (e.g. Financial physical and human). A report into major incidents in the UK written (by Dr Pollock) showed that it is important to have a system to ensure that lessons are learned on an on-going process and staff trained in changes required.

The flooding in the North of England showed that the communities were well prepared and flood-aware because of past flood events and some property was saved. Support teams were praised by their ability to operate largely autonomously and connect people to resources.

The Embrace team adapted the three loops of learning:

  • are we doing things right?
  • Are we doing the right things?
  • Is the defined “right way “becoming too forceful?

It developed support tools for triple-loop learning. Embrace emphasize on on-going process of learning both in formal and informal networks.

How JESIP has developed Joint Organisational Learning (JOL) for the UK Brian Welsh, Area Manager. JESIP – FRS Senior User – Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service

As part of JESIP developed to improve multi-agency response in the UK, a new Joint Organisational Learning (JOL) process and application were developed. It has been recognised that in the past emergency services in the UK have not acted on lessons identified from many past incidents and emergencies. It has also been noted that there is not point in reviewing events from the past unless you intend to act on any issues identified.
JESIP launched JOL in 2015 and identified a single point of contact in each service to ensure that can submit any issues they identify following involvement in multi-agency response. The intention is to ensure joint working amongst emergency services, other response organisations and partner agencies can continually improve.  Services can submit learning onto JOL where all the lessons are monitored, carefully analysed and risk assessed against the probability of the issue occurring again and its impact.
Based on this input the interoperability board approves actions to be embedded onto service policy, procedures or training activities. JESIP has an assurance mechanism to confirm change has occurred.

Examples of the JOL activities are sharing identified lessons, influencing key changes to command and control at counter terrorism incidents and an active involvement of JESIP in a number of recent major incident debriefs to ensure any learning is captured.

How could EFRIM help? Potential funding sources – Horizon 2020 Dirk Oberhagemann, German Fire Protection Association

EFRIM is preparing a Horizon2020 network proposal for funding in response to a recent call for bids for funding. Dirk Oberhagemann and Michiel Poppink will write this proposal. It will be sent out to the EFRIM community with the invitation to comment and support the proposal.

From the information provided by the EU and comparing it with the intentions for EFRIM, there are some challenges, which need to be addressed. The call is focussed on practitioners in the same discipline, which is not a realistic approach due to the fact that in case of an incident all three services are involved. Instead of positioning the end-users in the same discipline like only fire fighters or police or paramedics, the proposal will be positioned as task oriented first responder organisation working from one control centre dealing with 3 service teams. The call asks for proposals monitoring research and innovation projects. The EFRIM proposal would want to see a solution provided and then being implemented.

It is suggested that the EFRIM proposal will try to ensure our requirements are met within the scope of the definition of the call. The output will be broader then only technical innovations and reports but may include guidelines and/or requirements for social innovation projects. As risks are often interconnected, the objective of EFRIM is to concentrate on natural risks and interconnected failures.

EFRIM – how can it help? – Michiel Poppink, Dutch Safety Institute
The innovation landscape of the European first responders is highly fragmented and dominated by commercial organisations and research organisations. The challenges first responder organisations are faced with are increasingly common from country to country while budgets are declining.
In addition, the first responder organisations are underrepresented in the European Union.
Therefore several first responder organisations took the initiative to use the collective experience by building a European platform for end users/practitioners (EFRIM). By coming together as a forum, the intentions and ambitions of the practitioners can be aligned and special interest groups can be developed around certain themes like flooding, terrorism and resilience.
Based on the outcome of the meetings of the special interest groups, the needs of the first responders can be voiced to the European Commission. EFRIM focuses on sharing knowledge and learning, identifying common problems and developing end user focused (EU) projects. EFRIM will co-ordinate these special interest groups, liaise with EU departments and facilitate funding bids.