ATF exercises in Germany and abroad
Europe tralns for dlsasters by Mario König and Ralf Rudolph
Commitment to the ATF
practising lesson learned by Mario König and Ralf Rudolph
Communication ➔ The provision of VHF 4m band radio traffic was initially problematic and only by improvisation was it possible to ensure sufficient radio quality. As far as local communication and the link to German organisational units were concerned, the use of mobile phones proved successful. However, this is hardly surprising, because the local telephone operator's infrastructure was not destroyed nor were the lines oversubscribed as would be the case in a real incident. In the event of a real operation therefore, this cannot be assumed in a real operation;
Analytical Equipment ➔ A glove box was provided in order to handle particularly hazardous chemicals, and the findings gathered mean that further technical developments can be made to the system. As part of the substance analysis, the IMS (Ion Mobility Spectrometer) was used within the limits of its capability to support the GC/M (Gas Chromatography/MassSpectrometry) during preliminary examinations. In so far as it was possible to analyse samples with a GC/MS, these were all identified.
National Sources of Information ➔ A spart of the exercise, contact was established with the Meditox and TUIS systems as expert networks. In addition to this, via Ludwigshafen fire brigade, the expert advice institutions of Rheinland-Pfalz (German Federal State) were included in the situation assessment. These contacts were made during the exercise via e-mail and mobile phone. The tasks were all processed promptly by the relevant institutions.
Field Lab ➔ As a replacement for the GW-Mess (mobile laboratory), which is not intended for operations abroad, an inf atable tent was modified to serve as a field lab. During this exercise, the setting up of the lab tent including the equipment inside was tested for the first time. The basic planning provedsuccessful. and the system can be further optimised based on findings gained during thexercise, in particuar with regard to work flow within the tent, as welt as working conditions, such as air-conditioning;
Selecting the Operational Team ➔ In selecting a team for the exeicise, the same principles were to apply as in the selection process for a real operational event. In the run-up it has to be established definitively which units may be considered in vIew of their suitability for an operation abroad. The following criteria are essential:
- Technical equipment
- Personal equipment (is availability always guaranteed without any lead time?)
- Organisational preparation (six hours maximum set-up prior to airport departure)
- Qualification (foreign languages, professional qualification, sociai competence)
Experience has shown that it is important for good teamwork that team members have already got to know each other in ihe run-up to the operation and that a certain routine is established in dealing with one another. In particular where fire brigades and federal states are concerned, a change in one's way of thinking is imperative, and it should be considered whether current procedures will continue to meet objectives.
Acquiring Information ➔ The national resources for obtaining information prior to and during the operation stil have to be optimised. For this purpose, those involved wil eva uate their experiences in terms of which information requirements exist in which phase, and which sources of information are able to deliver the bes information in the shortest time possible.
Transport Logistics ➔ To be efficient in areas further afield, appropriate transport logistics have to be put in place to ensure rapid availability within the operational theatre.
With a maximum lead time of five hours until operational readiness on site, a marching time of no more than five to six hours should be needed subsequently to reach the target area. It is imperative that intervention takes place as soon as possible, particularly in the event of a biological or chemica incident, but coping with very ong journeys can create considerable stress for the operational team. For longer distances, this would mean investigating the possibility of air transport. It is possible to ship the ATF (Analytical Task Force) material in its entirety on Euro-size pallets.
Internal Documentation ➔ Detailed information on the current situation is generaly marked wiih the date and time of receipt. If the document is thus marked, it can be easily ascertained how current any report is and/or in which sequence the reports were received.
Integration of the THW ➔ The integration of the THW can be viewed as highly successful. During the course of the exercise and during the subsequent evaluation the following areas were identified where the THW is able to provide optimum support for the ATF abroad
- Providing accommodation, supplying provisions, ensuring adequate power supply (ie infrastructure)
- Ensuring communication for voice and data transmission on a local and international level
- Ensuring operational documentation, including detailing and analysing situations
In conclusion it may be said that it was possible to fulfil the tasks that were set during the EUDREX exercise as weil as during the EURATECH exercise. Both events were seen as an opportunity to examine the ATF's technology and organisational structures in terms of their suitability and fitness. Several insights were gained which could also be implemented in order to optimise the operational flow during operation at home.