Rescue project conducted at Tuzla Airport in Romania on 7 September 2022

Within the European project „Search and Rescue: Emerging technologies for the Early location of Entrapped victims under Collapsed Structures and Advanced Wearables for risk assessment and First Responders Safety in SAR operations (number 882897, project Acronym: Search and Rescue), have been planned a series of 7 field exercises to test the operation of the equipment and technologies developed within it. One of these exercises in the field, under the generic title „Resilience Support for Critical Infrastructures through Standardized Training on CBRN” took place between 06-07.09.2022 at Tuzla International Airport, Constanta County, Romania.

During the exercise, 8 equipment and technologies were tested, as follows (their manufacturers are given in parentheses):

1.  Smart glasses VR (SIMAVI) – they were tested by running a program that virtually performed the field exercise in all its tactical moments according to its scenario

2.  Communication system for rescue – COncORDE PLATFORM – (KT) – the COncORDE platform was tested by managing the flow of information between the High Commander, the Field Commander and the leaders of the fire responders who intervened in the field. Analogously, the platform received information from other equipment in the exercise, for example Wearable strain sensors.

3.  HLX3000-M5 PORTABLE MULTI GAS DETECTOR (UniCa) – this type of sensor was tested in the airport terminal to identify the chemical that caused the contamination of the passengers

4.  Wearable strain sensors (UniCa) – the testing was carried out by wearing this equipment by one of the members of the Tuzla CBRN team who participated in moving the contaminated people (dummies were used) to the decontamination tent and their decontamination.

5. Rescue system for children (UNIFI) – the equipment was tested by a member of the Tuzla CBRN team by transporting the child (a mannequin was used) to the decontamination room and then to the emergency medical first aid tent

6.  Smart textile professional uniform (UNIFI) – the equipment was tested by wearing it by one of the members of the CBRN Tuzla team (the CBRN protective suit was worn over it)

7. E-learning based platform (to be used for training) (CERTH)

8. Smart glasses AR (SIMAVI) – The equipment was tested, during the field exercise, by one of the members of the Tuzla airport emergency team

It should be mentioned that the functionality of the „E-learning based platform” technology was tested prior to the exercise in the field, in the period 01-02.09.2022, by completing a course on the terrorist attack with chemical substances, by the members of the CBRN team of the Tuzla airport. On this occasion, the members of the Tuzla CBRN team improved their theoretical and practical knowledge regarding the intervention in such a case.

The whole process of scripting the exercise, planning and organizing it took about a year.

The steps mentioned above were carried out by a team of the PROECO CBRN Cluster, together with the director of the Tuzla airport and members of its crisis cell.

The participants in solving the tactical moments in the field were from:

  1. 1 PROECO CBRN TEAM (High commander and 3 field observers and evaluation staff) = 1person + 3 persons = 4 persons
  2. Tuzla emergency services (Field Commander, CBRN team and, as a support, Tuzla firefighters’ team) = 1 persons + 5 persons + 5 persons = 11 persons
  3. 1 team of emergency doctors from the Central Military Hospital = 5 persons
  4. 1 ONG medical USARS Romania team to support emergency first aid =6 persons
  5. 1 medical ambulance Samaritanus Romania team =4 persons
  6. 1 CBRN team of the County Inspectorate for Emergency Situations Constanta=5 persons

The exercise scenario was made up of the following tactical moments:

  1. While the passengers of the plane are in the airport terminal heading for customs, there is a degassing of a substance that affects some people (eye pain, difficulty breathing, vomiting) in the terminal.

The personal in the terminal airport identifies the substance used in the terminal.

Informed, the head of emergency management (general manager of Tuzla airport) activates the Crisis Cell of Tuzla airport.

2. Airport Crisis Cell take the following intervention measures:

– Alarm airport staff by broadcasting the „Chemical Alarm” signal through the civil protection   notification system

            – activates the CONCORDE platform to facilitate the flow of information

         – send the civil protection inspector to the field to coordinate the intervention and to transmit information on the evolution of the operational situation (only from free zone)

3. Alerted, the CBRN team of the Tuzla airport put on the CBRN protective equipment and mark the red zone in the contaminated area and the free access zone in the airport.

             – CBRN Tuzla team prepares stretchers for passengers to move to the decontamination tent

            – alert the CBRN team of the County Inspectorate for Emergency Situations Constanta – Tuzla

            – alerts the team of emergency doctors from the Central Military Hospital located in the area

             – alert the ONG medical USARS Romania team to support emergency first aid

             – alert the medical ambulance Samaritans Romania team to support emergency first aid

4. The Tuzla CBRN team starts transporting the passengers (mannequins are used) from the arrival’s terminal.

5. CBRN team of the County Inspectorate for Emergency Situations Constanta – Tuzla installs the contamination tent and begins the decontamination.

6. The team of emergency doctors from the Central Military Hospital, USARS Romania and Samaritans Romania arrive in the intervention area.

7. The 3-emergency medical team takes the decontamination passengers and provides them with first medical aid.

8. Transporting the affected persons to the Constanta emergency hospital and evacuating the    unaffected persons in the evacuation area at the entrance to Tuzla airport.

9. CBRN team of the County Inspectorate for Emergency Situations Constanta – Tuzla begins the decontamination of the equipment, land and buildings.

An element that decisively contributed to the success of the exercise was the conducting of a field reconnaissance by the equipment and technology manufacturers, including the first responders’ teams, one day before the exercise.

This fact determined the realization of an exercise where there were no deficiencies in achieving the flow of information or non-compliance with the standardized operational procedures specific to this case.

Immediately following the completion of the field exercise, first responders who used the equipment and technologies in the exercise completed their evaluation questionnaires.

These questionnaires were immediately analysed in a „Hot briefing”, where equipment and technology manufacturers also participated, with the aim of improving them, to the extent necessary.

It should be noted that the qualifications of the equipment and technologies used in this type of exercise were „very good” (90-95%) and good (10-5%).

As a final conclusion, participation in such European search and rescue protections is necessary and beneficial because:

– ensures a useful exchange of professional, but also human, experience between different EU partners

– ensures a closer connection between the offer of equipment and technology manufacturers with the needs of first responders

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