Civil Protection Croatia: Conference on Crisis Efficiency Held in Vinkovci

By 20 September 2021
Civil Protection Croatia: Conference on Crisis Efficiency Held in Vinkovci
© HGSS - Hrvatska Gorska Služba Spašavanja

September 20, 2021 - A civil protection Croatia conference titled "Civil Protection and City Security" analysed the response to the pandemic and the 2020 earthquakes in the country. Could the European PRAETORIAN Project make things better?

The pandemic and shocking earthquakes in 2020 showed in the most painful way possible how important civil protection is and how much Croatia still has to learn. That sais, there is no place for sorrow, as these topics now get more and more attention in public and relevant actors are on the go.

Earlier in September, the small but sweet town of Vinkovci in Slavonia was hosting the “Civil Protection and City Security“ conference to assess and address the relevant issues of civil protection. The conference organised a panel on the topic of civil protection and crisis management in which Krešimir Kuk (from the Croatian seismological service), Dragutin Repinc (from the Croatian War Veterans Ministry), Siniša Petkoviček (from the Croatian Firefighters' Community/HVZ), Davor Spevec (Civil Protection), Pavo Medved (Vukovar-Srijem County) and Josip Granić (the director of the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service/HGSS), all took part.

In her opening remarks, Nataša Gajski Kovačić noted that the biggest problem in civil protection back when 2020's earthquakes struck was segments of systems being uncoordinated. The positive side, however, was the HGSS' level of efficiency in earthquake-damaged areas, rapid entrance to damaged sites, finding injured people and bodies, as well as the very quick organisation of help in removing dangerous parts of buildings and information distribution. This shouldn't come as a surprise with HGSS already being a very well loved and respected institution in Croatia.

The institution is respected both for its professional and efficient rescue missions and their edgy sense of humor as HGSS often posts sarcastic remarks to tourists who get in trouble while exploring Croatian mountains and nature without taking precautions. TCN had the chance to interview Josip Granić two days after the devastating earthquake in Petrinja at the very end of 2020.

The second day of the two-day conference moved from discussions to more specific plans of action when the ''Smart City and Crisis Management'' part presented the PRAETORIAN Project. Being an acronym for ''The protection of critical infrastructure from advanced combined cyber and physical threats'', the project's strategic goal is to increase the security and resilience level of critical European infrastructure (CI), facilitating coordinated protection of interrelated physical and cyber threats.

''The project will specifically tackle (i.e. prevent, detect, respond and, in the case of a declared attack, mitigate) human-made cyber and physical attacks or natural disasters affecting CIs. It will also address how an attack or incident in a specific CI can jeopardise the normal operation of other neighbouring/interrelated CIs, and how to make all of them more resilient by predicting cascading effects and proposing a unified response among CIs and assisting first responder teams. PRAETORIAN is a CI-led, user-driven project, which will demonstrate its results in three international pilot clusters. Some of them cross borders, involving 9 outstanding critical infrastructures: 2 international airports, 2 ports, 3 hospitals, and 2 power plants“, says the European Commission's website.

France is busy coordinating this project which started back in June and will last until the end of May 2023.

HGSS is, along with Zagreb Airport and the well known Croatian company Končar, one of the partners on the project.

With the hopes that the PRAETORIAN Project will help boost Croatian CI, making cities safer and more resilient to earthquakes various other threats, it's worth noting that Croatia already does enjoy a reputation for handling things well and insisting other countries solve their own problems. Look no further than smoke and fire - literally. Not only has Croatia learned how to handle its own troubles with wildfires, but it also helps others to do the same. Just this year, but Croatia sent its firefighters to assist Turkish colleagues and also sent several firefighting planes to Greece — earning international respect and expertise acknowledgment.

Not far from Vinkovci is Vukovar, and you can learn more about Croatia's Hero City in our TC guide.

For more about the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service, follow TCN's dedicated page.