First Responders from Eastern European OPCW Member States upgrade knowledge of emergency management tools

Practitioners gain faster access to critical information for effective responses to chemical attacks and incidents

20 May 2021
First Responders from Eastern European OPCW Member States upgrade knowledge of emergency management tools

THE HAGUE, Netherlands20 May 2021Chemical emergency first responders from Eastern European Member States of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) explored the use of key incident management tools – the Wireless Information System for Emergency Responders (WISER) and the Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG) during an online workshop. The training was conducted from 18 to 19 May by the OPCW and the Population Protection Institute of the Fire Rescue Service of the Czech Republic.

The course leader from the Population Protection Institute, Lt Col Ladislava Navrátilová, stressed: “The Institute fully supports the OPCW’s endeavours across all regions to strengthen chemical safety and emergency preparedness in this challenging time. The level of interest from countries across all OPCW regions in applying modern technology to advance chemical emergency response capacities is very encouraging and motivating for our instructors.”

Senior Programme Officer from the OPCW’s Assistance and Protection Branch, Mr Anton Martyniuk, remarked: “This training on the application of electronic emergency response tools supports first responders with critical information where they need it, when they need it. This training – following on from similar learning opportunities for professionals in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean – has proved its efficiency, even under Covid-19 constraints.” Mr Martyniuk also described how the training provides a platform for sharing experience of Article X implementation and results-oriented planning of future capacity building measures at the regional and sub-regional levels.

To learn how to accurately characterise and rapidly contain incidents involving hazardous chemicals, the participants familiarised themselves with ERG and WISER, which are key evaluation tools and sources of information on hazardous substances, protective distance plotting, and containment.

During a special session on Article X assistance and cooperation for South Eastern Europe States, OPCW experts and staff from the RACVIAC-Centre for Security Cooperation based in Croatia, facilitated a discussion on the current needs of Member States in South Eastern Europe. These discussions were a first step in the creation of a sub-regional cooperation and assistance plan, enhancing preparedness and response capabilities against chemical attacks and incidents involving toxic industrial chemicals.

The course was attended by 27 professionals from 11 OPCW Member States in the Eastern European region: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Russian Federation, and Ukraine.

This was the sixth training on the use of ERG and WISER held by the OPCW since October 2020. The training will continue in other OPCW regions.

Background

As the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention, the OPCW, with its 193 Member States, oversees the global endeavour to permanently eliminate chemical weapons. Since the Convention’s entry into force in 1997, it has been the most successful disarmament treaty eliminating an entire class of weapon of mass destruction.

Over 98% of all declared chemical weapon stockpiles have been destroyed under OPCW verification. For its extensive efforts in eliminating chemical weapons, the OPCW received the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize.

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