From 24 to 25 October 2019 Poggioreale and Palermo (Italy) hosted the INSARAG Africa – Europe – Middle East (AEME) Regional Meeting.
INSARAG is the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group established in 1991 whose primary purpose is to facilitate coordination between the various international Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) teams who make themselves available for deployment to countries experiencing devastating events causing structural collapse primarily due to earthquakes. The periodic Regional Meetings foreseen by INSARAG gather international USAR policymakers, team leaders, and governmental representatives, among others, to exchange information about technical and political USAR issues.
The Italian Civil Protection Department (DPC) together with the Italian National Fire Brigade Corps (VVF), in their position of regional chair of this network of experts for the year 2019, have recognized and acknowledged the protection of cultural heritage in emergencies as a primary issue of interest for the search and rescue community and have decided to reserve a session of the Regional Meeting’s agenda on this matter. The idea emerged from the experiences and lessons learnt during ModEx Sicily 2019 – the international full-scale Exercise funded by DG ECHO and implemented from 16 to 19 July 2019 – that were brought to the attention of the INSARAG Regional Meeting. During ModEx Sicily 2019, particular attention was given to the safeguard and recovery of cultural heritage assets; ICCROM was actively involved in the exercise with the aim of testing the procedures developed to deal with this sensitive issue.
During this special session dedicated to cultural heritage protection, Ms Proietti and Ms Piacentini, two among the DPC experts from the Cultural Heritage Working Group involved in PROCULTHER, delivered a presentation on the activities carried out so far by the project, namely the national meetings organised to provide the project with those key elements for the development of a common European response methodology for the protection of cultural heritage during emergencies. The Meeting participants expressed great interest in the project that benefited from its first opportunity of visibility within the community of first aid/rescue professionals.