The scenario of a quick clay landslide in the City Centre formed the backdrop to Trondheim Red Cross´ exercise on November 12th, 2022. This gave volunteers and crisis management an opportunity to work side by side while coping with an imaginary scenario which occurred on an otherwise regular autumn Saturday.
Why a quick clay landslide scenario?
The Directorate for Civil Protection in Norway noted in a 2013 “Analysis of Risk Scenarios” that quick clay avalanches in densely population urban areas were a worst-case scenario.
In Trondheim, Øvre Bakklandet is among the mapped quick clay zones with the most inhabitants and potentially the greatest consequences. “Analyses of risk scenario 2013” further describes that if we assume that there are 10 areas in the country with a similar risk picture to Øvre Bakklandet, the probability of a more general avalanche scenario “of this magnitude” will be 10 times as high. This means that a similar avalanche can occur within 200 to 300 years or that there is a 0.4% probability that it will occur within one year. The probability of a more general avalanche event then falls into the medium category. The uncertainty associated with the rough estimate of probability is considered to be moderate. The mapping of quick clay and the risk assessment that has been carried out provide a relatively good knowledge base. However, the probability of avalanches will be highly dependent on the defined frequency of “major avalanches”. In other words, the degree of danger in this zone in relation to the average and the control one has over construction work in the area.
Carrying out the exercise
This was the scenario underlying the exercise that was carried out in November, where Volunteers from Preparedness Guard (PG) and Search and Rescue Team (SAR) were trained together with Trondheim Red Cross´ crisis management, both board and staff.
The board in Trondheim Red Cross decided in Autumn 2021 to develop the Preparedness Guard environment in the TRC. One of the measures was the establishment of the Red Cross Preparedness Guard, in addition to the planning and execution of three emergency drills. The purpose of these drills was to prepare the Search and Rescue Team and crisis management in Trondheim Red Cross for participation in the major emergency preparedness exercise, which will be directed by SINTEF in Autumn of 2023 and where the Red Cross Preparedness Guard will be tested.
We started with a discussion exercise for the board in May 2021, which was followed by an acting exercise for both board and local councils in May 2022. The November 2022 full-scale exercise was the most recent installment in this series. This exercise was, as mentioned, based on a quick clay landslide in Trondheim with the evacuation of residents from the center of Trondheim. The Red Cross building played the role of an evacuation center. The Preparedness Guards, together with a task force from the Search and Rescue Team with the crisis management at the top, were to receive and care for the evacuated residents.
Planning and methodology
The planning for this exercise started in August 2022. The planning group included all participants who were to take part in the exercise. A total of 21 people participated in the planning. The purpose of the exercise was following:
Crisis management: 1. Use of emergency plan. 2. Use of proactive staff methodology. 3. Communication in TRC during crisis management and communication with the municipality and citizens during the event.4. Establishment and operation of the TRC headquarter as an emergency reception for residents of the municipality.
Emergency crew: 1. Establishment and operation of an evacuee centre/reception center for displaced residents. 2. Cooperation between volunteers from several activities. 3. Cooperation between leaders from the Search and Rescue Team and the Preparedness Guard. 4. Cooperation between crisis management and leaders from Search and Rescue Team and the Preparedness Team.5. The individual volunteer’s role, competence and ability to handle a crisis.
The exercise itself was held on Saturday November 12th 2022. 50 markers, a crisis management team of 7, an emergency team of 9 people from the Search and Rescue Team carried out a four-hour preparedness exercise in real time, well organized by a training staff of 14 people. Everbridge also participated in testing their public warning technology. Personnel from SINTEF Digital, the project coordinator, provided observers, as did Trondheim municipality. Like all other exercises, this one also produced a lot of knowledge. The Trondheim Red Cross is now in the process of gathering and systematizing this knowledge to implement measures that will make the Trondheim Red Cross and the Preparedness Guards better able to fulfill their role in the large exercise in Trondheim in September 2023.
By Marie Borgen Hellerud
Pictures provided by the Trondheim Red Cross.