Barents Rescue Exercise: Making the Barents Region a safer place

Large distances, long and cold winters, sparsely populated areas, and last but by no means least national borders, make the Barents Region a challenge in rescue operations.

Barents Rescue is the largest cross-boundary emergency exercise in the Barents Region. Since the first joint exercise between major rescue and emergency actors and organizations in the Barents Region took place in 2001, similar exercises have been arranged in the region in 2005, 2007 and 2009.

The Barents Rescue 2011 will be conducted by the MSB – the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency – and is part of the Swedish Chairmanship of BEAC 2009-2011. Four practical field exercises will take place in the county of Norrbotten in September 2011. They will include a train accident, rescue operations of trapped people in a collapsed industrial building and in a tunnel, and a chemical emission in a densely populated area. Emergency actors and organizations from all the Barents Region countries will take part in the exercise.

At the center of attention is, in addition to Nordic agreements and national legislation, the Agreement on Emergency Prevention Preparedness and Response signed by Sweden, Finland, Norway and Russia in 2009. It regulates cross-border cooperation in rescue operations in the Barents Region.

The main goals of this year’s exercise are to:
  • define, test and evaluate agreements and legislation for mutual assistance in crisis situations
  • test relevant national and international alarm routines
  • improve routines for requesting, providing and receiving international assistance in crisis situations
  • strengthen municipal and county abilities for cross-border cooperation for crisis situations in the Barents Region
  • particularly highlight the media as an important actor in crisis communication to the public
  • develop and improve planning prior to future exercises
“Sweden has a lot of experience in sending assistance abroad, but lacks experience in activating international large-scale alert systems as well as receiving international assistance. Coordination of efforts and communication on Swedish soil is therefore of special Swedish national interest”, explains Anneli Jansson, Deputy Conducting Officer of Barents Rescue 2011.

Barents Rescue 2011 emphasizes public information. “It is our intention to draw quite a lot of attention to the exercises, but of course without negative impact on daily life in the areas where the exercises will take place. An important part of the exercises is to engage professional journalists and communications expertise to create realistic scenarios in crisis communication. In our blog you can also follow our preparatory work where we scrutinize legislation and alerting systems, and conduct general planning for the exercise", adds Anneli Jansson.

More information

Simulating firefighting from air on oil tanker, Kola Bay, Barents Rescue Exercise, Murmansk, 2009

Simulating firefighting from air on oil tanker, Kola Bay,
Barents Rescue Exercise, Murmansk, 2009