Skip to main content

European project Safe and Equal in EMErgencies - "SEE ME"

The Administration for Civil Protection and Disaster Relief is participating as a project partner in the European Commission Directorate General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid’s project Safe and Equal in EMErgencies – “SEE ME”, on the basis of a grant agreement between the European Commission and the lead partner’s Ministry of the Interior, Civil Protection of Croatia, and the project partner’s Ministry of the Interior, Directorate for Emergency Situations, Montenegro.

The project will run for 18 months, from March 2022 to August 2023, with a total project value of 367,814.64 EUR.

With disaster risks induced by climate change on the rise, and security threats evolving both globally and in the European Union, there is a growing pressure to build the resilience and preparedness of our local communities for future emergencies in order to reduce impacts and speed up recovery. In disasters and their aftermaths, people with disabilities are disproportionately more at risk of injury and death than the general population, and their lives depend almost exclusively on the knowledge, skills and equipment of first responders. While in the past concerns for people with disabilities played a marginal role in disaster management planning and mitigation, in the light of the increased focus on topics such as safety, risk reduction and preparedness this vulnerable group has been increasingly recognized as an important target in emergency response.

The project aims to contribute to the equalisation of opportunities for people with disabilities in emergencies. People with disabilities face considerable barriers in different areas of their social lives, despite the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2006 and the 2010-2020 European Disability Strategy, followed by the national equivalents, such as inadequate access to and provision of protection and rescue during emergencies, resulting from the lack of common standards in the protection and rescue of people with disabilities. Although people with disabilities are recognized as a particularly vulnerable group, their right to equal rights and opportunities in emergencies is often neglected in local emergency response plans and civil protection procedures. People with disabilities are excluded from decision-making in the emergency planning and management system, and first responders are not trained in the specifics of rescue and protection of different disability groups. All of the above makes this already vulnerable group even more vulnerable in emergencies.

In the light of this, the aim of the project is to improve the safety and equality of people with disabilities in emergencies through:

- An awareness-raising campaign on equal rights in emergencies;

- An analysis of the gaps and needs in the provision of protection and rescue for people with disabilities;

- The collection and exchange of best practice, expertise and planning;

- The development of guidelines related to the protection and rescue of people with disabilities in emergencies, along with protocols for the emergency assistance and inclusion of people with disabilities in civil protection prevention and planning activities;

- The implementation of guidelines through different models (as procedures presented in GIS systems assisting rescuers in locating and rescuing people with disabilities; implementation through the development of first responder training programmes; implementation through the application of the protocols in local emergency response plans).

Existing gaps in cross-border emergency management will be identified through the analysis of gaps and needs in the protection and rescue of people with disabilities in emergencies. This analysis will focus on existing documents, protocols and lessons learned. Based on the analysis results, as well as on collected best practices, guidelines will be produced, along with protocols for emergency assistance procedures and the inclusion of people with disabilities in civil protection prevention and planning activities. An awareness-raising campaign will familiarize local communities with the specific needs of this vulnerable group in emergencies. In order to test cross-border operational collaboration in disaster response, a demonstration exercise on the implementation of the guidelines will be organized with all partner countries. This collaboration will be strengthened by the common use of the guidelines and their implementation through a GIS model, training recommendations and the application of protocols in the development of local emergency response plans.

The Administration for Civil Protection and Disaster Relief is responsible for implementing an awareness-raising campaign which will aim to enhance respect for the rights and dignity of people with disabilities and to combat stereotypes, prejudices and harmful practices. Raising awareness and empathy and providing guidelines aimed at improving the safety of people with disabilities can be of great value in the process of creating common European Standards in Civil Protection operations. Awareness-raising activities will consist of:

  • An awareness campaign for the general public, professional staff (those who help people with disabilities, those who live with people with disabilities, neighbours etc.) and first responders on the needs of people with disabilities;
  • Information and education on disaster management for people with disabilities.

The intended users of the project’s results are the protection, rescue and assistance forces and other actors involved in protection, rescue and assistance, people with disabilities, local and regional authorities and communities, and the general public. The project’s results are aimed at benefitting not only Slovenia, but all the project partners and the wider European community. An indirect impact of the project is also the cross-border cooperation (strengthening) of civil protection authorities, focusing on the neglected area of people with disabilities; in particular, common preparedness measures, a review of the current situation and the achievements of the European Union so far, and the further development of these achievements in order to offer a specific added value to the European Member States.