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"Catastrophes must be practised"

"Catastrophes must be practised"

Disaster drill around fake earthquake

A violent earthquake shook Groningen to its foundations. That is, in the thrilling scenario that was re-enacted during a large-scale disaster drill in which VodafoneZiggo played a modest part.

On a regular basis the army, emergency services, security regions and businesses meet to practise what needs to be done if a disaster strikes with national impact. In 2016, the fictitious scenario described severe flooding in Marken caused by a burst dyke. At the end of November 2018, a violent earthquake in Groningen was played out. Soldiers, relief workers, technicians, supernumeraries, lorries, helicopters, and emergency provisions had to step in.
"The Netherlands improves its resilience to threats by practising with its crisis partners at regular intervals," explains crisis manager Piet Voesten of VodafoneZiggo. "Fortunately, national disasters are not a regular occurrence in the Netherlands. But all the same, if you never practise, it’s hard to learn. Therefore, VodafoneZiggo participates in national drills on a regular basis. It enables us to test our crisis procedures and emergency systems, but also the ability of our colleagues to improvise. In addition, we also improve our communication with all parties involved, like the police, fire brigade, the army and the Red Cross."
Vital importance
VodafoneZiggo had three tasks during this drill. Restoring communication, entering a closed-off area and informing the crisis partners. "In the chaos it is sometimes challenging to stay focused on your own task. During the drill, for example, fictitious casualties came to our technical post. Your nature tells you to help these people. Our engineers, however, had to focus on their main target: restoring fixed and mobile communication. Any delays would only lead to more casualties. Prioritising in such situations is of vital importance. Our colleagues did very well in that respect, they never lost sight of their mission. Eventually they managed within a short amount of time, with the use of a satellite connection, to have a local Wi-Fi network in place for the relief workers and the local inhabitants."

Photos: Ministry of Defense