PROMEDHE EU Project – Protecting Cultural Heritage across Borders

Cultural heritage is, by its nature, exposed to various and serious risks. The development of technologies and procedures that make it possible to improve the first aid and damage limitation activities must be constantly followed to update the techniques to the evolution of risks and expectations of the community.
In this context, international cooperation is gaining increasing importance. The ability to improve operational efficiency and effectiveness, in fact, largely benefits from the comparison between different experiences. Furthermore, in cases where catastrophic events hit entire regions, the contribution of teams from countries other than the one affected by the emergency can prove essential for saving cultural heritage.

the picture shows a phase of the final exercise of the EU Promhede project
Promedhex 2018 Exercise. Assessment team working in the scenario of simulated earthquake damages inside a church.

To keep a channel of research and cooperation open, the European Commission therefore finances projects aimed at exchanging experiences between countries interested in securing cultural heritage in emergencies through funding from DG ECHO (European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations).

Promedhe has been one of these projects. The project’s consortium included the Italian Civil Protection Department (DPC) as Coordinator, the Cyprus Civil Defence (CCD), the Palestinan Civil Defence (PCD), the National Emergency Management Agency of Israel (NEMA), the Jordan Civil Defence (JCD) and

the Fondazione Hallgarten – Franchetti, Centro Studi Villa Montesca.

The project, continuation of the IPCAM project (2015-2016) that has been managed by the Department of Civil Protection and involved the national civil protection authorities of Germany (THW and BBK) and Tunisian with the aim of strengthening the capacity for disaster management preparation through the development of the voluntary sector, the development of operational manuals for emergency management at the institutional level and the development of information systems for the management of emergency information;
Ended in June 2018, the Promedhe project, has organised training courses for civil protection and cultural heritage professionals, set up national expert teams, and exchanged best practices and standards for the safeguard and protection of cultural heritage
One of the project’s main objective has been to create a regional network of experts to cooperate and share experiences in the field of cultural heritage protection during disaster management.
Looking at integrating cultural heritage into national disaster and risk reduction strategies, for more than two years, Italy, Israel, Jordan, Palestine and Cyprus have been working together to safeguard cultural heritage in case of disasters. The outcomes of the project have been the creation of a skilled cross-border regional network of experts, able to operate during disasters for the protection and safeguard of cultural heritage sites.
The main exercise of the project “PROMEDHEX 2018” has been held in Lucca (Italy). The town has been chosen by the project organisation for its high density of cultural heritage sites enclosed by walls and surrounded by mountains. The area, moreover, has often been hit by different types of natural disasters, and is particularly exposed to risks. So, the activities carried out in the exercise were developed aiming at providing the participants with practical insights based on real-life scenarios. In particular, a earthquake has been simulated as scenario for the disaster where the Italian National Fire Corps have operated with its first aid teams that performed rescue operations, first aid and safeguard measures on damaged cultural heritage.

EU Promedhe Project: final exercise - briefing
EU Promedhe Project: final exercise – briefing

“PROMEDHEX 2018” has been organised in order to test the ability of coordination of mixed teams of experts from the partner countries in the operations on-site, within the comprehensive capacity-building package on the protection of cultural heritage during disasters, developed with the project’s partners.

EU Promedhe Project: final exercise. This phase of the operation was aimed at verifying the capability of first responders to remove cultural heritage artefacts.
EU Promedhe Project: final exercise. This phase of the operation was aimed at verifying the capability of first responders to remove cultural heritage artefacts.
EU Promedhe Project: final exercise - operation in underground building (credit: CNVVF).
EU Promedhe Project: final exercise – operation in underground building. This phase of the operation was aimed at verifying the capability of first responders to put in a safe place cultura heritage artefacts working in an underground environment

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