At today’s cabinet meeting, the government approved the civil protection concept, which will set out central activities to protect the lives and health of people in cases of both civilian and military threats. The new approach emphasises the importance of preparedness for crises and people are recommended to have at least one week’s worth of supplies to cope independently.
According to Prime Minister Jüri Ratas, more than two years of work on developing the common principles of civil protection is a good example of consistently developing a broad-based approach to ensure the security of the society.
“Threats today are much more complicated and our everyday lives are threatened by various natural and industrial disasters, possible disruptions of vital services, terrorist attacks, and many other things. Therefore, the new approach to civil protection is a comprehensive system, where everyone has a clear role and responsibility. We are clearly stating that in addition to the government’s responsibility to ensure fast communication of threats and assistance in crises, every single one of us can also contribute, for example by having supplies at home or by making preparations to help each other within the community,” Ratas said.
The whole society takes part in developing civil protection and its management is divided between two authorities: the Ministry of the Interior will coordinate the performance of activities related to emergencies and the Government Office will do the same for national defence crises.
The way people manage in crises relies largely on awareness and the skills to act appropriately in dangerous situations. For this, the concept sets out teaching preparedness for crises to young people in basic and upper secondary schools. In order to increase preparedness for crises, necessary informative materials will be prepared for citizens. Among other things, instructions to support preparedness in crises will be made available. These instructions are a collection of practical advice on how to prepare ourselves and our home for crises, which tools should be bought, and how to act in a crisis. The people’s level of preparedness for and awareness of crises will be regularly measured through surveys.
According to Margo Klaos, the head of the task force that developed the concept, the state plans to develop a quick location-based threat notification system in the near future, which will allow sending warnings to people’s mobile phones and providing specific instructions for what to do.
A nation-wide crisis information line will be implemented, which will be a direct communication channel during crises, to share information as well as collect and forward it to the people solving the crisis.
The primary responsibility for our safety and that of our family lies on each one of us – therefore, state authorities recommend having the supplies (e.g. food and heating) and tools necessary to cope independently for at least one week. The state will develop the principles of extensive evacuation and, in cooperation with local governments, map the possible places of evacuation. A detailed analysis for making political decisions regarding the creation of shared shelter solutions in larger centres will be completed by the end of 2018.
As civil protection activities have to continue also during military crises, the healthcare system will be developed in a way that makes it prepared to handle a significantly larger amount of people in need, if necessary. It is also important to ensure post-crisis psychosocial counselling for people. The concept assigns agencies managing national supplies with the task of carefully reviewing the system of food, convenience goods, and medical supplies, so that they would be accessible during crises.
A task force on civil protection was formed at the Government Office in December 2015. Their goal was to develop a comprehensive approach to developing the area and coordinating activities. Experts from more than twenty organisations took part in the work of the task force.
The text of the civil protection concept will be published on the website of the Government Office.
Additional information: Margo Klaos (+372 503 5112, margo.klaos[at]rescue[dot]ee)
Head of the Task Force on Civil Protection
Head of the Southern Regional Rescue Centre