4 october 2012

Dmitry Medvedev holds a video conference on civil defence drills


Dmitry Medvedev: Good afternoon colleagues. Greetings to everyone present here and in the regions. Today we are taking part in civil defence drills. Both federal and regional authorities are present here, representatives of the Emergencies Ministry, civil defence organisations and the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. Our objective is clear: to check government agencies’ ability to work in an emergency situation. The drills are taking place already; they began in every region of our country at 6 a.m. local time. So, they have already finished in several regions. I believe such trainings very useful.

This is the first time we hold such a joint drill in this regime. It will help us review our capabilities and shortcomings, and determine future priorities. The National Crisis Management Centre, where we have gathered today, was set up in 2009 (from time to time we all gather here, especially during emergencies). This is the main centre in the system of such centres that operate in the regions and federal districts. The speed of disseminating information about natural disasters and industrial accidents, the timeliness of delivering public alerts – all this depends on the coordinated efforts in the work of these centres. The speed of decision-making is a vital factor in any emergency or crisis. Quick decisions improve our chances of turning the situation around and help people in distress. This increases the chances of influencing the situation and helping people who were affected by the disaster in the first few hours. Civil defence teams took part in the disaster relief efforts at the Sayano-Shushenskaya hydroelectric power station, at the Raspadskaya mine, in Krymsk, and in putting out the forest and peat fires in various parts of the country in 2010 and 2012. Taken together, this serves to show that the range of tasks facing the civil defence bodies is considerably broader than it was, say, 30 or 40 years ago.

It is very important to work with people, to explain to them the goals and tasks of civil defence. Everyone must know how to act accordingly, meaning safely in difficult situations, how to behave in this type of situation in the city, in the countryside, in a forest, on the road. In short, everyone must know what they can do in any particular location to reduce risks and help people in trouble. These are our goals.

I’d like to use this opportunity to congratulate everyone present here on the 80th anniversary of the civil defence organisation and to express our gratitude to the retired workers and the current staff working in this difficult profession. Their work is of immense importance for everyone in this country, for their personal safety, and society is aware of this. We have to continue to improve the system of civil defence that has been developed over many years, using it to the best advantage, making use of modern protection systems and monitoring and forecasting technologies. Following the minister’s latest report, I have decided that we need to draft a departmental programme to deal specifically with issues of civil defence. I hope that this will help deal with the challenges that exist in the system.

Let’s get to work. I give the floor to Mr Vladimir Puchkov, Minister of Civil Defence, Emergencies and Disaster Relief. Over to you.

Vladimir Puchkov: Mr Medvedev, colleagues. In accordance with the decision of the Government, today is the first time we are holding a civil defence training exercise in this format. The participants include federal and regional bodies of executive authority, as well as the management bodies, the staff and equipment of the Emergencies Ministry.

In preparing and holding these exercises, we have developed 9 federal and 74 regional scenarios simulating as close as possible real-life disaster situations in their respective regions. The exercises are being held in two stages. During the initial preparation stage, the specified measures to increase the disaster readiness of civil defence management bodies and personnel were implemented.

In particular: additional measures have been taken to improve the ability of the management bodies to carry out their tasks both in peacetime and in wartime; the availability of staff, equipment, communication and computerised command and control systems have been increased to the appropriate level; and the readiness of mobile command stations has been tested. We have reviewed civil defence plans, command and control documents, and breakdown schemes and the use of relief forces in the event of major emergencies and disasters. Military rescue teams have been put on alert for natural disasters and man-made catastrophes, particularly at critically important facilities and in outlying regions of the country. Fire-fighting units have been reinforced with additional staff and notified of potential emergencies; additional material and technical equipment has been supplied to on-call relief and rescue groups; improvements have been made to the scheme for evacuating people and material and cultural assets from the affected regions, as well as to the system of getting priority supplies to people in areas affected by emergencies. Civil defence training has been held with all sections of the population, who have been taught the rules of conduct in case of imminent disasters or during emergencies.

Mr Medvedev, as I reported to you, today we are holding an open house at all the agencies, departments and units of the Emergencies Ministry, where guests, including the relatives, parents and children of employees, will be able to learn about our achievements in improving the system for ensuring people’s safety.

These events include demonstrations of modern hardware and rescue equipment. During the preparations for this training, the heads of civil defence management bodies carried out measures to improve the practical skills for organising and holding relief operations, including in conditions where the control infrastructure has been damaged, or communications and vital service systems have been disrupted.

In accordance with the plan for this exercise, all “affected” regions have been trained in the introduction of an emergency regime, which provides, in part, for limiting the activities of organisations in the emergency zone in order to ensure the unconditional protection of the population and rescue teams working there. The regions have held meetings of the commission on the sustainable operation of economic facilities and have taken additional measures in this area.

An analysis of the first stage of the national emergencies exercise leads us to the following conclusions. First, the command systems and civil defence forces are for the most part ready to perform their assigned tasks. Civil defence measures are being planned in accordance with the relevant documents. The National Crisis Management Centre and the Command Centre of the Emergencies Ministry territorial agencies are ready to carry out their relevant tasks. Today the Government will discuss the further development and improvement of the crisis management centres.

Second, civil defence forces, including military rescue units, fire-fighting units, search-and-rescue teams and on-call emergency units, are ready to fulfil their tasks under difficult real-life conditions.

Third, plans have been drafted and approved to ensure the evacuation of the population and maintain the operation of vital facilities, and material, technical and financial reserves have been approved for fulfilling the goals of civil defence and the protection of the population.

As part of the second stage of the exercise, we plan to focus on issues related to the organising and holding of practical civil defence measures in the Russian regions and at crucial economic facilities. Following the exercise, we will prepare a plan for further improving the readiness of the management agencies and forces to carry out civil defence tasks, taking into account current requirements at the federal level, in the regions and within organisations.

Mr Medvedev, I suggest that we listen to the reports from the regional civil defence heads on the fulfilment of the relevant measures. Thank you.

Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you, Mr Puchkov.  Let’s listen to your colleagues now.


Dmitry Medvedev’s concluding remarks

Colleagues, I would like to say a few words at the end of the training session. All of us, or at least those of us not working for the Ministry, have become used to perceiving civil defence as something perfunctory, something that has nothing to do with us, and don’t give it the attention it deserves. In reality, this approach creates major problems, and it must be changed radically. True, it’s highly unlikely that the civil defence system will be used in case of a hypothetical nuclear conflict, large-scale war or some other similar scenario. That is what we were taught at school and university in civil defence classes. However, calamities, disasters and other crises requiring all-out consolidation of human resources cannot be ruled out. Unfortunately, they happen on a regular basis, as our recent experience shows. The most important aspect, the people, will depend on the extent of our readiness. We have a lot to accomplish in the sphere of civil defence.

I suggest that the Minister and all relevant agencies assess our current resources and consider ways to improve the use of personal protection equipment. Soviet-era methods are no longer relevant. We should adopt more advanced approaches that are used in most countries, and we should stockpile a reasonable amount of this personal protection equipment. This is just one example. Nevertheless, large-scale training drills remain a key factor. Vladimir Puchkov and I have just discussed this issue:  well-trained employees and regular drills are the main indicator that leads to a reduction in the number of casualties, and that is our main objective.

I would like to congratulate all civil defence professionals once again and to say goodbye.