In recent decades, there has been a multiplication of different types of major incidents – technological, man-made, or natural – happening in different locations at similar times. This has led civil protection stakeholders to rethink their strategies on how to coordinate responses to these new kinds of hazards. As auxiliaries to the public authorities and first responders in emergencies, National Red Cross Societies have directly experienced the added complexity that these types of incidents represent, as well as the need to modify preparedness measures and enhance understanding of the associated risks.

Led by the French Red Cross, “Multi-Site Events Response Coordinated Intervention” (MERCI) is a two-year project implemented across five European countries (Bulgaria, France, Italy, Portugal and Spain) as of January 2017. It was born of a common will to strengthen communities’ resilience towards multi-site or multi-risk disasters in large urban areas by strengthening voluntary civil protection organisations’ capacities and coordination with public authorities, both during and after such events.

In particular, MERCI aims to:

  • Develop a replicable transnational response planning tool that takes account of previous experiences and operating protocols;
  • Strengthen responders’ capacities and effectiveness in multi-site or multi-risk event management.

The project brings together six Red Cross partners to assess the needs of responders, to analyse current knowledge, existing practices and tools, and to develop guidelines and adaptable operational protocols for the management of multi-site crises.

During the 2-year project, first responders and emergency operation managers have been learning about these new potential risks, as well as how to respond to them, while effectively incorporating harmonised planning tools. Following specialised training, a series of simulation exercises have been held in each of the five participating countries to test and adapt the procedures developed.

MERCI is implemented with the support of the Civil Protection Financial Instrument of the European Union, which aims to enhance cooperation in prevention and preparedness in civil protection and marine pollution. The programme covers any type of disaster, including floods, earthquakes, fires and pandemics, or chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear emergencies. Learn more