IThousands of helpers are still on the move in the areas affected by the flood, in addition to the Technical Relief Organization (THW) and the many professional and volunteer fire brigades as well as the police and rescue workers, Bundeswehr soldiers were also on duty in several places. Nevertheless, now that the water masses are gone and rubble, mud and rubbish are left behind, there are also increasing voices asking critically how one should deal with disasters such as the heavy rain in Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia in the future. In the past few days there have been repeated complaints from individual residents that it was mainly because of the self-organization that the clean-up work was proceeding.
Niels Kröning heads the European and German business of the Canadian company CAE. The company has focused on the training and education of military forces, fire brigades and the police, it is the largest provider in the segment in the world. From Stolberg near Aachen, the company trains emergency personnel with a good 2,500 specialists. “We won’t be able to prevent every disaster, but we can be better prepared as a society,” says Kröning. “You can practice it, localize danger spots and better prepare people who are deployed there for risks.”
Modern flatbed trucks, excavators and helicopters
The crisis manager is of the opinion that we in Germany are well aware of the force with which disasters can overtake us, but that there is still too little training across the board between neighboring states, federal states and emergency services. “We like to procure a lot of material in Germany in order to cope with such scenarios. That’s right, because you need modern low loaders, excavators and helicopters, ”says Kröning. “But we also have to define training as a core topic. What good does it do for us if we have all these modern resources, but the emergency services do not train together and there is inevitably a certain overburden during the mission. “
Putting a greater focus on regular training is a political challenge, the manager points out. In contrast to the military, who – unless they are deployed abroad – have a great deal of capacity for training, the fire brigade and police forces are often on standby. It is not so easy to do more large-scale exercises on site.
Large-scale digital exercises
In addition, these disaster drills often take place in cordoned-off locations such as old airports or in unused coal-fired areas. The transfer of such training locations to real conditions is sometimes difficult. CAE, for example, is building digital twins of individual locations. Erftstadt, for example, could be digitally mapped just as the location looks – and what happens if a bridge has collapsed or a federal road is flooded can then be modeled in the exercise scenario.