From 21 to 24 April, teams from the eight Samaritan organisations participating in the flood project came together in Hornstein, Burgenland, Austria for a field exercise hosted by project partner Samaritan Austria.
After a first test in a simulation or “table top” exercise in Bolzano earlier this year, the exercise in Austria was the first practical test for the cross-border support capacities the SAM.I. members had developed within the project Cross-Border Samaritan Flood Preparedness. Over the last two years, the Samaritans created a joint process chain and defined SAM.I. Cross-Border Assistance Teams (CATs) to support each other in case of flood disaster.
The SAM.I. CATs offer a variety of capacities, all of which are essential in flood disaster relief but also rely on other teams for support. The abilities tested in the exercise ranged from high capacity pumping (ANPAS) over water purification (ASB) to search and rescue (ASBÖ), medical services (ASSR, ASCR, USB), technical support and energy supply (SFOP, USB) and supply services for food and even a field laundry (WK).
The Austrian Exercise Command had developed a number of scenarios to challenge the capacities of every team. After the base of operations had been established, new situations emerged non-stop over the complete duration of the exercise, including through the night – just like in a real disaster.
Most scenarios required the teams to work together and complement each other to find solutions. For example, the technical support teams provided lighting to search operations and evacuations or conducted pumping operations when approaching floods threatened the site of the water purification set-up.
After the exercise, the project will be concluded by an evaluation meeting and a final conference, where follow-up possibilities to establish the SAM.I. CATs as a permanent mutual assistance mechanism within SAM.I. will be discussed.