DRIVER+ Project celebrates major achievements and successes

The DRIVER+ Advanced Crisis Management Conference was held in Brussels on February 18-20, bringing together over 300 Crisis Management specialists, academics and technology developers from throughout Europe and beyond

The project’s outputs, achievements and long-term legacy benefits for all European and international Crisis Management organisations were praised by senior European Commission officials and conference delegates.



The DRIVER+ Advanced Crisis Management Conference brought together over 300 Crisis Management specialists, academics and technology developers from throughout Europe and beyond


The conference was the culmination of several years of intense work across Europe, involving four large-scale crisis scenario trials and a final trial/demonstration, technology development and assessments, and the development of a unique Trial Guidance Methodology for testing the best solutions for specific emergency management tasks.

Research was also undertaken to accelerate innovation in Crisis Management throughout Europe, in particular in connection with climate change related events such as wildfires and flooding as well as medical emergencies such as coronavirus and industrial accidents.

The project has also fostered the establishment of a number of Centres of Expertise to promote enhanced Crisis Management skills and innovation, and set up a pan-European network, the Crisis Management Innovation Network Europe (CMINE) to foster knowledge sharing and cooperation.

DRIVER+ is an EU funded project tasked with promoting and testing new, science-based improvements in crisis management. Specialist speakers attended from world leading organisations, such as the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research on climate change and wildfires, the Red Cross on Psychological First Aid training for volunteers, and Patrick Meier of WeRobotics Flying Labs on the promotion of drone flying and mapping skills among local populations for improved crisis response throughout the non-European world.

The DRIVER+ Trial Guidance Methodology for conducting trials of Crisis Management solutions, is supported by the Test-bed Technical Infrastructure (TTI). All outputs are free and open source, available from the DRIVER+ website. Other free outputs include the DRIVER+ Portfolio of Solutions – an online database of advanced Crisis Management technologies.



Representatives of the first seven DRIVER+ Centres of Expertise with Marcel van Berlo, project technical coordinator (third from right), after signing letters of agreement at the conference

The establishment of a network of DRIVER+ Centres of Expertise to ensure the sustainability of project outputs has been a major achievement, with seven centres signing letters of agreement at the conference: Entente Valabre (France), the Main School of Fire Service (SGSP, Poland), L3CE (Lithuania), The Resilience Advisors Network (RAN, Ireland), SRC-PAS (Poland), EASS (Estonian Academy of Security Sciences), and the Austrian Red Cross (ARC).

For more information or to download reports and other project outputs visit:;

This project has received funding from the European Union’s 7th Framework Programme for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration under Grant Agreement (GA) N° #607798



CTIF and partners begin a European project to train first responders on hydrogen safety

Starting in Belfast on January 21-22 the project underpins and improves resilience and preparedness by enhancing emergency planning and intervention tactics to develop first responder skills to manage and recover from hydrogen related incidents

  • The HyResponder Project will develop and implement a sustainable “train the trainer” programme for first responders
  • Involving 16 partners the €1m project is coordinated by Ulster University
  • The three-year programme is funded jointly by the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH 2 JU) under the EU Horizon 2020.


The important need for this programme is underlined by the increasing use of hydrogen as a fuel and the requirement to understand how its properties differ from more conventional fuels. Responding firefighters will through HyResponder be provided with hydrogen specific safety training and European-wide guidance.

The three-year project will develop operational and educational training, including virtual reality, in hydrogen safety for first responders and CTIF is involved in seeking to establish a Pan-European standard for responder trainers. The standard will be developed from observation and discussion with trainers from at least ten different European countries who will attend a bespoke course in hydrogen safety, which they can then use back to their home countries.

The work will also be used to modify the European Emergency Response Guide (ERG) that will incorporate state of the art intervention strategies and tactics to be used to aid first responders involved in hydrogen incidents across the globe.

The International Association of Fire and Rescue Services CTIF representative is Dennis Davis, special adviser to the CTIF Executive Committee and a member of the UK national committee, the Fire Sector Federation.



Fire service and partners invest in lifesaving equipment for Tyne and Wear communities

Members of the public can now access defibrillators at five fire stations across Tyne and Wear, increasing the chance of survival for residents in cardiac arrest

The community public access defibrillators (cPADs) have been installed at Chopwell, Sunderland Central, Farringdon, Gateshead and Byker community fire stations. The lifesaving equipment is easily accessible and no training is needed to use them – potentially giving members of the public the ability to re-start a patient’s heart before the arrival of the emergency services.

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service is working together with Cardioproof ENGIE, IML and North East Ambulance Service to host and maintain the defibrillators. Assistant Chief Fire Officer John Baines explained: “This is a fantastic partnership, inspired by Professor Michael Norton who has dedicated his career to improving outcomes for cardiology. The chance of survival for a person in cardiac arrest is reduced by ten percent for every minute without defibrillation, so having a defibrillator nearby could save their life.

“We have worked closely with our partners to review which areas were most in need of additional cPADs and this collaboration will continue to make sure that they remain accessible and maintained. It’s a great example of working together to keep our community safe.”

The defibrillators are placed in locked cabinets at the front of the fire stations. When someone calls the ambulance service on 999 to report a cardiac arrest, which has occurred close to one of the stations, the ambulance control room operator will direct the caller to the cPAD and provide the code needed to unlock the cabinet. The defibrillator itself then provides simple instructions and voice prompts on how to use it.

Professor Michael Norton, from Cardioproof, a North-East based non-profit organisation that aims to improve cardiac arrest survival rates, said: “I am delighted with the launch of this initiative. ACO John Baines and CFO Chris Lowther have been incredibly positive and proactive since we first met them to discuss this project. TWFRS, Cardioproof and our partners are leading the way in our region by providing this lifesaving resource for the community over and above the day to day service they provide to the North East. Eighty per cent of cardiac arrests occur in the home so having these defibrillators available 24/7 within the community will significantly improve survival chances for those whose hearts stop nearby.”

Although no training is required to use the defibrillator, members of the community will be offered the opportunity to learn CPR and get to grips with the defibrillator with a familiarisation session for each station, run by North East Ambulance Service.

NEAS community development officer, Alex Mason said: “It’s always great to see new community access defibrillators being installed in our region as we know the difference they can make.”



New strategic alliance

LHD Group and Vimpex report on an exciting new strategic partnership The partnership brings together one of Europe’s leading PPE personal protective apparel manufacturers and the UK’s leading specialist supplier of PPE and rescue equipment to form a new powerful alliance that will deliver the highest levels of quality, service and protection to the UK’s firefighting services.



Vimpex, a leading specialist supplier of PPE in the UK, forms an alliance with LHD, a leading European manufacturer of PPE personal protective apparel


Head-to-toe Protective Apparel Solutions

Vimpex Managing Director, James Jones, said: “LHD’s enviable brand reputation for high quality PPE and product expertise across the UK, combined with Vimpex’s established infrastructure capabilities, plus our expertise in sales, service and support, will bring new standards in product performance, delivery and support to the UK market.

“This partnership agreement is a real step forward for Vimpex as it will complete our ‘head-to-toe’ PPE solution for the UK’s emergency service teams across the public and private sector.”

LHD Group Chief Operating Officer Daniel von Chamier added: “This strategic alliance between our two companies is a result of our enhanced commitment to the UK market, building on recent successes to further develop a robust UK infrastructure in support of our high quality, market-leading personal protective apparel to ensure the health, safety and performance of the UK’s firefighting communities.”

Spearheading the product offering will be LHD’s innovative Kinetic Structural Firefighting Suit and Particulate Blocking Flash Hood, evidencing a critical element of quality and performance differentiation to challenge competitive markets. Weight-saving design, functional tailoring and state-of-the-art materials deliver a new level of protection and ergonomics in firefighting protective clothing.



An EPiCC response to emergencies and disasters

The future media and communication response to emergencies and disasters within the UK will be shaped by a new not for profit organisation launched last month

EPiCC (Emergency Practitioners in Crisis Communication) will support the development and delivery of effective crisis communication by providing a network for all who practice and operate in this arena to share good practice, train, learn and exercise within a safe environment.

Director of EPiCC, Chris Webb, the former Head of News and Deputy Director of Public Affairs with the Metropolitan Police, said: “EPiCC is built around three core principles. The need to prepare, plan and practice. Having led the media and comms response to emergencies and major incidents for almost 30 years, I understand the benefits that an organisation like this will bring.

“In 2017 and 2018 I was invited to deliver key note speeches to EMPA (Emergency Media and Public Affairs) a not for profit organisation in Australia and New Zealand that works with comms professionals from the public and private sectors to enhance and improve their response to disasters. EMPA has made a real difference to how those two countries now handle such incidents.

“Over the last 12 months I have been working with partners involved in the emergency response at a national level here in the UK to set up a similar model and I’m delighted that the vision has now become a reality. There will continue to be a close working relationship between EPICC and EMPA.”

EPiCC is supported by a Board of Advocates with wide-ranging and extensive experience of emergency management and crisis communication across a broad range of incidents and sectors. As well as enhancing what they deliver, through their knowledge, skills and international networks, they help to ensure EPiCC stays up-to-date, relevant and responsive to the rapidly changing nature of emergency management and crisis communication in today’s society.

Advocate Alec Wood, the former Chief Constable of Cambridgeshire Police, said: “Effective crisis communication must be at the heart of an effective emergency management response for any organisation that provides services to the public. Ultimately the quality and timeliness of information during an emergency can save lives and keep people safe.

“Developing and enhancing the skills of your people is key. If you fail to plan, you will plan to fail. One can only fully prepare when decisions are based on a sound understanding and comprehensive knowledge of what to expect during an emergency or crisis. The training and coaching from EPiCC gives greater confidence, should the worst happen.”

Find out more about EPiCC by visiting: