Transporting critical patients from one country to another. Providing lung ventilators, surgical masks and medical staff to hospitals in need. Bringing hundreds of people stranded abroad due to sudden border closures back home.
These are just some of the major challenges many countries were confronted with following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
European countries responded to this unprecedented crisis through an extraordinary solidarity effort towards one another, supported by the Brussels-based Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC).
These are the stories of the incredibly committed civil protection officers who worked to help people in other European countries, and of their counterparts at the ERCC, who coordinated these solidarity efforts from Brussels.
Discover how we protect Europe together!
EU Civil Protection officer Sien Vanlommel and medical team leader Vanessa Debreyne worked tirelessly when Slovakia faced a surge in COVID-19 cases. They ensured that a Belgian medical team could relieve overwhelmed doctors and nurses in the country.
Doctor Gergely Nagy and EU Civil Protection officer Cristian Iacob knew they were handling an extremely sensitive operation. They coordinated the transfer of 44 serious COVID-19 patients from Romania to Hungary to receive treatment.
Kosovo needed urgent help: personal protective equipment was lacking in the country while COVID-19 kept spreading. Slovenian civil protection worker Borut Horvat and EU Civil Protection officer Eleonore Colin helped ensure a very prompt response.
Hundreds of EU citizens could not return home after the sudden border closures which followed the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Spain’s civil protection coordinator Bibiana Andujar and EU Civil Protection officer Alfonso Lozano worked around the clock to bring them back.
North Macedonia was in dire need of personal protective equipment to curb the spread of COVID-19 infections. Along with EU Civil Protection officer Roman Francl, civil protection coordinator Iva Brezjova made sure that help from Czechia could reach the country as fast as possible.
Latvia was running out of lung ventilators to keep critically ill COVID-19 patients alive. At a time when no EU country had the capacity to provide such devices, EU Civil Protection officer Johannes Vara was able to coordinate the delivery of ventilators from an EU stockpile which was stored in Sweden.
When medical emergencies strike, the EU comes to the rescue
The ERCC is the beating heart of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. It coordinates the delivery of assistance to disaster-stricken countries, ensuring the fast deployment of support from 27 EU countries and 6 participating states within the Mechanism.
ERCC teams operate 24/7, providing help to both EU and non-EU countries upon request from their governments or the United Nations.
This coordination effort reduces time and resources as a single focal point for a country in need of assistance and ensures smooth and efficient operations. At the same time, the ERCC ensures that the support provided responds to the specific needs of those affected by disasters.
The ERCC liaises directly with civil protection authorities in the affected countries and finances the delivery of rescue teams and assets.
This campaign highlights the work of both local civil protection workers in different European countries and their counterparts working with the EU’s Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC).
By sharing the stories of these incredibly committed civil protection officers and crisis workers within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the campaign aims to promote the crucial role of the ERCC in addressing health crises and other disasters by coordinating the solidarity efforts of EU countries.