Updated: 20-Mar-2003 NATO Speeches

Round Table

20 March 2003

“National Perspectives on Response Structures to Threats”

Capt.Eng. Dariusz Dziwulski
Deputy Head of Civil Protection Planning Section,
The National Headquarters of the State Fire Service of Poland

1. Introduction.

A new character of threats that have lately appeared (e.g. growth of quantity and intensity of natural calamities – floods, droughts, hurricanes, heavy rains, epidemical threats – BSE, foot and mouth disease, bio – terrorism) has caused necessity for reconstruction of civil protection system in Poland. Also, political, economical and administrative changes (privatisation of economy, accession to NATO, administrative reform – set up second self - government level, efforts for accession to European Union) have influenced in this scope.
Therefore, Polish authorities have started wide – spread activities to establish legal frames for new civil protection and crisis management system. The main principle of this system is integration of local and governmental authorities, rescue services, civil defence formations, non-governmental organisations and other bodies activities. So far, Polish Parliament has enacted:

  • State of Natural Calamity Act (2002),
  • State of Emergency Act (2002),
  • State of War Act (2002, finalisation of legislation process),
  • environmental protection, among other control of major- accident hazards involving dangerous substances (implementation of European Council Directive Nr 96/82/EC – SEVESO II).

Besides, a group of experts has been appointed by the Minister of Interior Affairs and Administration to prepare new solutions in scope of civil protection, crisis management and rescue system.

Now, the main task is to introduce above mentioned acts into live. During this process we will take into consideration following aspects:

  • compatibility of solutions have already established with solutions which are under preparation,
  • protection of existing solutions that have been positively verified during really rescue actions (e.g. National Rescue and Firefighting System),
  • adjustment of new solutions to international standards, mainly to NATO and European Union requirements,
  • adjustment of new solutions to financial capabilities.

In regard to above mentioned conditions, existing plans and procedures are just really modified. Unfortunately, very often that modifications are taken directly in the face of a danger.

Below, it is presented some aspects of response structures to threats, in particular WMD in Poland.

1. Command and control.

There are indicated bodies responsible for reaction in case of individual kinds of threats in Poland. Unfortunately, same troubles are met in scope of coordination their activities. The main observe problem is in one case conflict of competence (similar tasks for few bodies) and in the other case lack of a body that is able to deal with a threat. This problem appeared in 2001 with anthrax danger. In that case competent authorities were sanitary and veterinary inspections and civil defence formations, but in fact only fire brigades were able to deal rescue operations (we noticed approx. 1000 alarms concerning anthrax <“white powder”>, fortunately all were false). Mentioned weak point, we should improve in near future.

2. Emergency Operations Plans.

There are a few emergency operations plans in Poland, among other:

  • civil defence plans,
  • crisis management plans,
  • operational plans of individual rescue bodies.

However, in case of emergency same of that plans are not useful for rescue action organisation. Among other, this problem concerns operational plans in case of use WMD. For example, procedures in case of bio-terrorism, we had to really verify at the moment when the threat appeared.

3. Health and medical.

In frame of preparation of “Inventory of National Capabilities Required for an Immediate Response to the Possible Use of CBR Weapons Against Civilian Populations”, inventory of health and medical measures has been done. It covered:

  • experts in the medical field of NBC,
  • possible medical countermeasures, including medicines and antidotes,
  • national laboratory facilities for substance identification,
  • specialised hospitals for treatment. By this opportunity, procedures in scope of that measures use have been prepared.

4. Credible threat information.

There are plans and procedures in scope of threat information (monitoring) in Poland. Many civilian and military bodies participate in this area. Received by one institution information is immediately sent to other interested institutions, responsible for rescue reaction. Information is exchanged both between individual administration levels, and between cooperated institutions on the same level. But, in same cases, specially in scope of chemical and biological monitoring, objective procedures are not excellent. So, very important task is to organise special recognition teams and laboratories, educate medical and other personnel and prepare adjusted procedures for information exchanging. Also, we would like to apply new telecommunication technologies and computer systems. Training and exercises are dealt, but we assess that their scale should be spread.

5. Operational co-ordination.

As was mentioned at p. 1 there are same troubles in scope of operational coordination in case of WMD use. But, in the face of emergency, that troubles were removed by extemporary decisions of competent authorities (Prime Minister, Minister of Internal Affairs and Administration or other competent Minister). Now, very important is changing temporary solutions into comprehensive solutions.

6. Protective Action Recommendations.

In light of prepared “Inventory ...”, there are quite a lot of recommendations to the population impacted by a WMD threat in Poland. However, their distribution and popularisation among the population is not correct. This point is perceived as very important task for improvement.

7. Personnel Resources.

Inventory of capability that was dealt in 2001 showed that there are only limited number of properly equipped, trained and exercised teams and personnel to respond in case of WMD incident in Poland. So, we can sufficiently react against WMD effects only in case of small scale accidents. In face of mass emergency (e.g. war operations) our capability do not assure required safety level. Civil defence formations – main forces that are appointed to respond chemical, biological and radiological threats were organised in previous political and economical system period of time. So, now most of their equipment is out of date and does not fulfil technical and functional standards. The main reason for that state is of course financial barrier, but also some legal and organisational lacks. As was mentioned, that problems are currently analysed and new teams and personnel will be organised and well equipped.

8. Mutual Aid Plans.

Polish side participates in international mutual aid. A few rescue teams, specially chemical and technical groups, are organised and can be used immediately to rescue operations abroad. That teams function on base of international procedures. Also, we have procedures to receive international aid.

9. Equipment and Supplies.

We systematically conduct inventory of the equipment for response to WMD incidents. Because of earlier mentioned difficulties we have serious problems to replace missing or deficient equipment. Also, we do not have sufficient recognition and data bases for identify all supplies of measures against WMD incidents.

10. Public information.

Public information system in Poland base on siren signals and media announcements. Now, we have four alarm signals, what is serious barrier for their good perception by the public. So, we encourage a solution bases on one siren (alarm) signal, connected in one procedure with media announcement. Also, we have to developed legal framework to define precisely protocols and procedures to obtain and provide media with emergency information and safety instructions for the public.
Some training and exercise have been conducted in that scope. However, we assess that their number and scale, specially full – scale exercises, is not sufficient.

11. Critical Infrastructure Mitigation.

There are many general safety requirements concerning all kinds of building, installations and other objects in Poland. Also, we have particular requirements for objects that are important from public safety point of view. But, in light of last experience, we assess that in scope of WMD threats many solutions have to be modified. One of important point is to set up new procedures in scope of restoration of objects (buildings, installations, systems) were effected by WMD. Of course, firstly we should conduct detailed inventory of individual segments of critical infrastructure.

12. Laws and Authorities.

As was mentioned at the beginning, Polish civil protection and crisis management system is changing at the moment. Despite this situation general rules and competent authorities are known. So, main responsible bodies are leaders of public administration on separate levels. Crisis management teams are organised to help them. Now, we have different teams for individual kinds of threats. In future we would like set up only one crisis management team at the separate administrative levels. Also, competence and activities coordination of rescue services, non- governmental organisations and other civil protection bodies must be clarified. Other details regarding individual segments of civil protection and crisis management system was shown above.

13. Rescue procedures of the National Rescue System.

Fighting against radiological threats.
When radiological threat appears units of the State Fire Service assist a leader-service. In that case it is the Central Laboratory of Radiological Protection. Units of the SFS activities must be taken only outside a fix zone. SFS scope rescue co-operation has been determined in Chief-Commandant of the SFS agreement with Chairman of the State Atomistics Agency.

Fighting against biological threats.
The SFS is not a leader-service in case of biological threats. Units of the SFS have not enough equipment to recognition and identification those threats. They can take activities outside a fix zone only. In situation of emergency fire-fighters can use their chemical rescue equipment to assist sanitary and veterinary services activities. SFS participated in working out of biological emergency procedures. Those procedures have been put into practise of the SFS units and other services. Within the confines of procedures have been determined tasks for individual service, principles of passing information on, procedures with dangerous substances, as: anthrax, smallpox, botulin.
Admittedly that many worked procedures out resulted from short-term decisions of competent authorities responsible for common safety ensuring.
The SFS use rescue chemical equipment in cases of biological threats, e.g. trucks, specialist protective and gas-tight clothing. In Poland there are a few dozen specialist rescue chemical teams. They can be redeploy on the whole country area.

Fighting against chemical threats.
The SFS units realise tasks in full range of chemical threats. Their activities consist in:

  • hazard recognition and identification,
  • hazard assessment and liquidation and liquidation of it effects.

Within the range of society informing and warning there is a system working in civil defence range. The core of the system are alarm signals passed on by siren network and announcements from mass-media.

Adding up, it can be said that no response system to threats is so good that it does not need an improving.
The main our problems determining the improving of significant response system to threats involve an improving of legislative acts concerned civil defence principles. Taking above-mentioned into consideration conclusions come as follow:

  • started legislative works must be continued consistently. Their aim is an adjusting of functioning principles of civil protection and emergency response system,
  • to the time of finished legislative works using above-mentioned solutions in scope of the national rescue system and the short-term solutions worked out in the last time in connection with increase of threat,
  • taking immediate activities (even on a base of short-term decisions of competent authorities) in range of co-ordination improvement between participants of response system to threats and information interchange.


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