As part of the Joint Program of the Government of Switzerland and the United Nations “Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) for Sustainable Development in Bosnia and Herzegovina”, a three-day disaster simulation exercise was held in Prijedor from November 28 to 30, 2022, which concluded with a demonstration of a rescue operation in realistic conditions and providing first aid.
During the first two days, exercises were held where over 50 representatives of the DRR Platforms from Bijeljina, Bihać, Sanski Most, Trebinje, Prijedor, Banja Luka, Kakanj and Gradačac tested local plans, procedures, and systems to assess the readiness of local communities to respond to disasters, and on the third day, a demonstration exercise of the rescue operation was held on the right bank of the Sana River.
“We can never be sufficiently prepared for disasters, but we can be aware of the importance of prevention and building an efficient system for responding to them. Increasing the capacity of local authorities to manage and reduce the risk of disasters, as well as improving the readiness and resilience of local communities, must be a priority of BH institutions,” said Mladen Radulović, Senior Expert Associate for Training, Planning and Programming in the Department for Structure and Training of the Sector for Protection and Rescue – Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The demonstration exercise was conducted by trained and certified professionals, together with units of water and underwater rescue services, rescue from heights, medical care, as well as firefighting units from Prijedor, Bijeljina, Banja Luka, Bihać and Sarajevo.
“The purpose of this simulation exercise is to validate and improve the preparedness and response plans for the rescue services, because speed, efficiency and good coordination are essential to reduce the human and economic costs of disasters. Emergency situations can very easily create chaos and uncertainty, and that’s when emergency teams must remain calm, be prepared, and well trained to deal with such situations,” explains Vedran Ibrulj, Coordinator for Disaster Risk Reduction project of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
Simulation exercises, as a practical implementation of priority 4 of the Sendai framework for disaster risk reduction, play an important role in promoting a culture of disaster risk reduction and are a very effective tool for additional development of skills and readiness through practical experience.
The challenges that local communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina face during crises, emergencies and/or disasters, from coordination and security to possible administrative and technical difficulties, can be reduced by regular simulation exercises.
“Disaster Risk Reduction for Sustainable Development in Bosnia and Herzegovina” is 7.1 million KM worth Joint Programme of the Government of Switzerland and the United Nations (UN), implemented by the UN agencies: UNDP, UNICEF, UNESCO, UNFPA and FAO in partnership with domestic authorities. The Joint Programme aims to address key disaster risk reduction (DRR) priorities identified by 10 local governments and various stakeholders across various sectors: protection and rescue, education, social and child protection, health, and agriculture. The Programme puts special emphasis on improving local DRR coordination mechanisms, as well as affirming risk-informed strategic planning processes with a focus on the most vulnerable population groups, UNDP announced.