The civil protection sector is facing ever more daunting challenges. In like measure, demand is running high for all the necessary equipment as well as for mind sharing and networking among the players involved.

"Civil protection is something that affects us all, and each of us needs to give it the attention and personal commitment it deserves," said Christoph Unger, President of Germany's Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK), adding: "This also means investing in new technology and promoting technological advancement."

Water treatment solutions

Next year's INTERSCHUTZ will feature purpose-designed vehicles and vehicle equipment

Next year's INTERSCHUTZ will feature purpose-designed vehicles and vehicle equipment, technical assistance and support equipment and disaster relief solutions, including alternate care facilities, mobile hospitals, emergency generators, water treatment solutions and civil protection measures for natural disasters. Among the many big-name providers who have already registered exhibition space in Hall 17 are Elmag, Grizzly, INHAG, Kärcher Futuretech, Lanco, Mast-Pumpen, MFC, NRS, SHG Spechtenhauser and Tinn-Silver.

They will be joining numerous civil protection and rescue services institutions and organisations who will also be putting their stamp on the hall's dedicated civil protection showcase. Among them will be the German Federal Defence Forces, the European Commission and the German Ministry of Education and Research. Also represented –in the form of a closely coordinated showcase – will be three key German civil protection agencies: the Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK), the Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) and the German Lifeguard Association (DLRG).

Civil protection operations

The BBK will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of Germany's air rescue services and will mark the occasion by exhibiting the full range of key rescue vehicles as well as a civil protection helicopter. Other key themes to be covered include individual emergency preparedness and resilience, international BBK projects, CBRN defence and the new Geokompetenzzentrum.

The THW will be joining forces with the DLRG to present the EU's joint ‘Flood Rescue Using Boats’ emergency response module. Germany's Workers' Samaritan Federation (ASB), Red Cross, St John Ambulance and Malteser Hilfsdienst organisations will also be showcasing their civil protection services – however, not in Hall 17, but rather at their central pavilions in Hall 26. Interdisciplinary collaboration is of critical importance when it comes to civil protection. Doctors, emergency rescue services personnel and crisis intervention specialists are among the types of professionals typically involved in civil protection operations.

First-responder organisations

Modern technology of the kind we will be presenting at INTERSCHUTZ is critically important"

That's why the lead theme for INTERSCHUTZ 2020, ‘Teams, Tactics, Technology – Connected for Protection and Rescue’, is particularly relevant to the fair's civil protection showcase. "Modern technology of the kind we will be presenting at INTERSCHUTZ is critically important, but so too are the people who will need to use this technology," said BBK President Christoph Unger.

"In our national civil protection system here in Germany, those people are the frontline personnel in the fire services, the Federal Agency for Technical Relief and other first-responder organisations. Private-sector organisations also play an important role. In order to respond to crises and disasters effectively, all of these agencies, organisations and parts of government need to collaborate – and ideally that collaboration should be established before the crisis or disaster in question happens."

Latest digital technologies

That's where the latest digital technologies offer promising potential. "The civil protection sector has not been paying enough attention to the implications and benefits of digitisation," explained Albrecht Broemme, President of the THW. "I'm hoping INTERSCHUTZ will change that. We need to do more – especially on the R&D front. There needs to be more collaboration between researchers and developers on the one hand and technology users and providers on the other."

INTERSCHUTZ is unrivalled in its track record of fostering domestic and international collaboration

INTERSCHUTZ is unrivalled in its track record of fostering domestic and international collaboration. "International partnerships are becoming an increasingly important part of civil protection, given the global nature of the challenges facing us," said Unger. "That's one of the messages we will be conveying at INTERSCHUTZ. We will use the show to profile our international cooperation projects and to offer them as a model for further projects."

Changing threat environment

Civil protection themes will also feature prominently in INTERSCHUTZ conferences including the two-day ‘Transcending Borders’ Civil Protection Symposium to explore cross-border cooperation among civil protection agencies, as well as several lectures to be given at the joint International Summit for Rescue and Emergency Services and Civil Protection.

For instance, the German Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) will present papers about its organisational realignment in response to the changing threat environment, accommodation of frontline personnel called up for catastrophic incidents, innovative water treatment systems, the use of hydrogen technologies at incident sites, and the agency's organisational resilience.

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