Allies and partners train to save lives during natural disasters
From 20 to 23 September 2021, 27 Allies and partners and 16 regional and international organisations came together in and around the cities of Ohrid and Struga in North Macedonia, practising their ability to work together and save lives during high-intensity natural disasters.
“North Macedonia 2021” was the 19th disaster response exercise organised by NATO’s Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC), co-organised this year by the Crisis Management Centre of North Macedonia. Drawn from past real-life disaster incidents, the scenario combined search and rescue operations, flood response, response to chemical, biological or radiological incidents and counter-disinformation campaigns. The exercise aimed to improve national and collective preparedness, interoperability and resilience in disaster emergency situations. It also provided the opportunity to test the use of NATO’s Next-Generation Incident Command System (NICS), a web-based collaborative platform that facilitates real-time coordination of disaster responses, among nations from the Western Balkans region.
This year marked the first time NATO’s EADRCC disaster response exercise has been held in a NATO member state. The Republic of North Macedonia was still a partner nation when it requested to host the event. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the exercise had to be postponed twice, and in the meantime, North Macedonia became NATO’s 30th Ally in March 2020.
The experience gained at previous EADRCC exercises has helped Allies and partners to save lives around the world, including during Hurricane Katrina in the United States and the Pakistan earthquake in 2005; the floods affecting the Western Balkans in 2014; and the forest fires and floods that hit Europe in the summer of 2021.