The UK, Ireland ans Sweden have joined forces to launch the EU FloodCommand project which will promote the innovative use of search and rescue (SAR) resources when dealing with the after effects of a tsunami, tidal surge or other extreme weather event leading to a major inundation.

The plan is to share information and develop a joint system of protocols to allow agencies from all three countries to work smoothly together in the case of an emergency. In the long run the goal will be to create a pan-European Maritime SAR Response Module which would improve capacity, speed and effectiveness of dealing with disasters.

Although only three countries are involved in the pilot programme it is hoped that other maritime nations will come on board as the scheme develops.

Extreme weather events become more frequent and more severe as climate change gathers pace and European authorities have learned from the American response to Hurricane Katrina that wealth and resources alone do not protect a nation from the worst nature has to throw at it.

“This is an excellent opportunity to enhance cross border cooperation significantly in response to major flooding events and the MCA looks forward to co-operating with our Swedish and Irish partners in the project,” said John Astbury, chief executive of the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

Eamon Torpay from the Irish Coast Guard added: “The Irish Coast Guard welcomes the opportunity to be involved in this important EU programme. We are very pleased to be involved with the Swedish administration and the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency, and the company involved in leading the project, VectorCommand.”

Magnus Qvant, of the Swedish Rescue Services Agency College, Revinge said: “The Swedish Rescue Services Agency College is very pleased to support the EU Flood Command Project. We are participating in this project with our full competence and resources.

“We are also doing everything we can do to engage the Swedish maritime rescue organisations in this project designed to promote understanding and cooperation. We are convinced that the EU FloodCommand Project will create a mutual platform for assistance when a major coastal inundation occurs.”

Sam Bond

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