About 500 people from Estonia, Finland, Germany, Lithuania and Sweden gathered in Hamburg, Germany, on 13 May to train a coordinated rescue action and decontamination. The exercise was organised by the Fire and Rescue Service Hamburg along with its voluntary fire department, Hamburg Ministry of Environment and Energy, Hamburg Police Department, ASKLEPIOS Clinic Harburg and the University Hospital Eppendorf.
Safety comes first
A coordinated evacuation of people and decontamination from hazardous substances were the highlights of the exercise. Once the affected people were moved to a secure area, the decontamination process started. First, the people were asked to take a cold shower, then the measuring took place to indicate if and how much of toxic substance was left. If necessary, a warm shower helped them achieve the “clean” status. The whole procedure would be repeated if the measuring results were unsatisfactory. Only when cleaned off any toxic substances, the victims would be transported to hospital for a medical check-up.
Accidents in seaports often involve hazardous substances and may affect people in more than one country. In such cases, active cooperation among rescue services, local authorities and involved private companies in the countries around the Baltic Sea is required. The Hamburg exercise helped identify some differences in the national rescue frameworks, the example of which were incompatible communication systems. Moreover, such common training events prove to facilitate the exchange of experiences and smooth conduct of a joint rescue mission.