Marje Verbo, crisis control officer at the Estonian Rescue Board (Päästeamet), said, on ETV show "Ringvaade," that the main aim of the CREVEX 2023 exercise is to practice cooperation between different agencies, when carrying out evacuations in crisis situations.
"The scenario [we created for the exercise] was that two trains carrying different fuel tanks collided on the territory of Muuga harbor. As a result, there was a leak from the wagons, which led to a fire. That caused an explosion, and so on," said Verbo.
A major part of the exercise involves practicing for a large-scale evacuation. "We wanted to practice how to help people who are not able to get out of the area by themselves. To do this, we set up three different transportation points on the streets of Muuga, where we had our people directing those, who were brought there, to buses that took them to the assembly point in the Lasnamäe Athletics Hall," said Verbo.
According to Verbo, the exercise was necessary in order to ensure different agencies are better prepared to work cooperatively should a crisis situation arise.
However, Verbo said it was still too early to talk about lessons learned from the exercise. "We're just starting to draw those conclusions, but certainly [we want] to make sure that this communication between agencies goes smoothly. So, that it doesn't get stuck in areas, where we think it's going well. So that our technology can cope, and our systems and online environments can cope. For example, if we are working in an electronic environment with different partners, and that environment stops working, then in a matter of moments, it makes life difficult. So, what to do even if the environment is not working or is overloaded. This is also a point where lessons can be learned," she said.
CREVEX is a major exercise organized every four years to train and test Estonia's nationwide emergency response capability as well as the continuity of state institutions.
The complex exercise is also more broadly aimed at raising both national and public awareness of crisis preparedness as well as a chance to test new and existing emergency communication channels.
The current, Muuga-focused stage of CREVEX 2023 is taking place on September 28-29, with large-scale field activities on Thursday and to shift on Friday to discussions, in a command post exercise format.
Participants include the Rescue Board, the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA), Tallinn Emergency Medical Service (TEMS), North Estonia Medical Center (PERH), the Port of Tallinn, including companies located at Muuga Harbor, the municipalities of Maardu, Viimsi, Tallinn, Jõelähtme and Saue, as well as the Estonian Defense League (Kaitseliit), the Women's Voluntary Defense Organization (Naiskodukaitse), the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF), the Health Board, the Social Insurance Board (SKA), the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Government Office.
Almost 1,000 volunteers have also been taking part in the exercise, playing the role of evacuees.
Editor: Michael Cole