NEWS

Failings lead to new civil protection model

After repeated defeats in tackling natural disasters, gov’t plans immediate remedial moves

Failings lead to new civil protection model

This week’s snowstorm and the huge problems it created in Athens once again highlighted in the most unpleasant way the chronic weaknesses and functional shortcomings of Greece’s much-berated civil protection apparatus.

According to reports, the plan to change things around was already in place before the mayhem that started on Monday evening. And with the government having been defeated three times by the weather – the Medea front last February, the August fires and this week’s snowstorm – its immediate implementation is now deemed imperative.

Kathimerini understands that the primary change in store is that of the philosophy pervading the National Coordination Center for Operations & Crisis Management (ESKEDIK). This will involve the creation of a central coordination center for the management of any risk, disaster or emergency. 

This can only be achieved through the interoperability and interconnection of the Hellenic Police (ELAS), the power grid operator DEDDIE, road network concessionaires and all other relevant bodies. 

The central philosophy stipulates real-time information sharing, so that the civil protection mechanism has a complete picture of any evolving situation and is able to effectively coordinate the actions of all bodies involved.

According to the plan, ESKEDIK will operate on different levels.

The highest level will be that of the competent ministers and, if necessary, the prime minister himself. A second level will be purely scientific, with experts evaluating the data and processing all the scenarios so that operations and decisions are made using solid data.

To this end, Civil Protection Minister Christos Stylianides has already contacted the University of Athens, the National Technical University of Athens, Democritus University of Thrace and the Geodynamics Institute of the National Observatory of Athens. 

Another level entails an operations center, a “war room” with representatives from all the bodies involved in the management of a crisis with specific procedures to be followed based on protocols, depending on the situation, whether it be an earthquake, severe storm, heavy snowfall or forest fire.

Approximately 500 staff members will be required for the plan, while the civil protection mechanism currently has a permanent staff of 38.

The total upgrade of the civil protection mechanism will be financed by the National Civil Protection program called Aegis with a budget of €1.7 billion.