On 19-21 June, ICCROM participated in a disaster simulation exercise for salvage of cultural heritage, held in Lucca, Italy. The exercise was part of a multi-year initiative organized by the Italian Civil Protection Department under PROMEDHE, an EU funded project also involving the civil protection authorities of Cyprus, Israel, Jordan and Palestine.
“PROMEDHEX 2018” provided a platform to test the ability of four mixed teams of experts from those countries to coordinate operations on-site with the Italian Civil Protection system. The field exercise was the closing event of a comprehensive capacity-building package on the protection of cultural heritage during disasters, developed with the project’s partners over almost two years of activities.
ICCROM led the PROMEDHE training as part of its flagship initiative, First Aid to Cultural Heritage in Times of Crisis (FAC). The final exercise with external observers helped to validate capacities inculcated by the training, based on the internationally recognized FAC framework of action.
Lucca was chosen as the location of “PROMEDHEX 2018” for multiple reasons, not least its high density of cultural heritage sites enclosed by walls and surrounded by mountains. The area has often been hit with different types of natural disasters, and is particularly exposed to risks. On-site activities were therefore developed in the aim of providing the participants with practical insights based on real-life scenarios.
In this case, a fictitious earthquake provided the scenario for the disaster simulation, in which the Italian Civil Protection Department requested the assistance of international experts to assess losses incurred in Lucca’s main cultural heritage sites and plan for immediate response actions. The exercise also included rescue operations, first aid and safeguard measures on damaged cultural heritage.
The event, hosted by the Municipality of Lucca, saw the participation of over a hundred people, including role-players, evaluators and observers. Representatives from the European Commission, ICCROM and UNESCO were involved in the event, along with experts from Austria, France and Spain. On its side, the Italian Civil Protection Department contributed a team of experts and officers in coordination with the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, the Fire Department, the Carabinieri, the Tuscany Region and the Municipality of Lucca.
PROMEDHE is funded by the General-Directorate of the European Commission for Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (DG ECHO). The project’s consortium includes the Italian Civil Protection Department (DPC) as Coordinator, the Cyprus Civil Defence (CCD), the Palestinan Civil Defence (PCD), the National Emergency Management Agency of Israel (NEMA), the Jordan Civil Defence (JCD) and the Fondazione Hallgarten - Franchetti, Centro Studi Villa Montesca.
PROMEDHE looks at integrating cultural heritage into national disaster and risk reduction strategies by creating a skilled cross-border regional network of experts, able to operate during disasters for the protection and safeguard of cultural heritage sites. The project’s main objective is to create a regional network of experts to cooperate and share experiences in the field of cultural heritage protection during disaster management.