A number of firsts currently going on in France’s second city, Lyon, where large-scale simulations of a number of disaster scenarios are being carried out.
The exercises involve hundreds of volunteers, and they bring together emergency services from several EU member states, working together to deal with catastrophes for the first time.
They are the largest exercises of their kind, and also the first time a disaster has been simulated in a real urban environment in the middle of a busy working day.
“Chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear threats fall under the category of low-probability but very high-impact disasters. When they happen the effects are catastrophic not only in terms of loss of life and impact on the economy but in terms of psychological impact, often on nations, not only one nation,” said the EU’s Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response Kristalina Georgieva.
A dirty bomb, followed by a sarin gas attack on the underground, and then a mass hostage-taking has kept everyone on their toes, and given European rescue services valuable information.
“This is a concrete and effective way of demonstrating the European ideal that we defend, where solidarity plays a key role,” said Spain’s Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz.
Volunteers came from Lyon’s medical schools, and the rescue teams came from France, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Italy and Portugal.