A story of how the Interreg project "PRE-pare – Borderless rescuing" prepared people for e

Have you ever wondered what happens in an emergency situation on the borders?

What if you end up in an emergency situation on the “other side of the border”? From which side of the border shall the ambulance come? Would you even wonder about that?

I would, most likely think more of saving a life, at first place, and if it comes to saving lives, there must be no borders! That would seem right, wouldn’t it?

But have you ever thought it might get a bit more complicated? Two countries over the borders means also two different legislations, different rules and different ways to handle the emergency situation or a crisis. And here comes the cross-border cooperation in play!

When I have started volunteering at EUREGIO and learning about different types of Interreg projects, I was particularly interested in those related to the safety and health care. Yet, this is my first post about it! How come? The best comes last!! ;)

I believe that the crucial aspect of cross-border cooperation is health care (and emergency care), as well as safety.

I was amazed when I learned that there is a cross-border Dutch-German police team which already exists for a couple of years as an essential part of safety on the borders. The project is co-financed by Interreg (current time period of the recent project 2015-2019, but initiative started earlier on). The main purpose of the cross-border police team is continue on improving a general cross-border cooperation between German and Dutch police, to continue on fighting the cross-border crime and to cooperate in an investigation process (information exchange and so on.).

However, as the title says, the police is not what I would like to talk about at the first place, but the emergency care cross-border cooperation. Yesterday (last week) I joined the final symposium of the Interreg project PRE-pare-Borderless rescuing and I was thrilled by such a positive feedback and evaluation from the project partners!

In the last few years there has been a significant development in emergency care and crisis preparedness on the borders between the Germany and The Netherlands and one of the greatest contribution to the development is the Project PRE-pare – Borderless rescuing.

One of the project’s goals is to eliminate obstacles related to border-crossing in an emergency situation and to allow cross-border rescue teams to intervene on the other side of the border and to work effectively together in case of crisis situations. Within the project time period 2015-2018 project partners organized several simulation exercises, seminars, special training, case studies, analysis as well as the German and Dutch language courses for personnel to improve each other’s language skills, as the language and communication is also an essential part of emergency care.

However, as many project partners (participants of the final symposium) say: “There is no language barrier in an emergency situation. With life at stake, the language is of little importance.”

By the way, it has been intriguing to see that during the final symposium all speakers spoke Dutch and German somehow at the time, constantly switching between the two, with no need to translate, to manifest a cross-border friendship and mutual understanding.

To see a room full of motivated paramedics, firefighters, doctors, health care personnel, project managers, sharing a common vision to improve cross-border emergency care was an astonishing picture.

Due to geographical distance it is sometimes absolutely necessary for rescue teams to intervene on the other side of the border to save a life. There has been countless situations when a German rescue team happened to be closer to the place of an accident on the Dutch side of the border, and other way around.

Thanks to PRE-pare’s 3 years initiative the cross-border cooperation in emergency care has significantly improved in many ways. To cover it all I would need to write a book, and though I would like to do so (I really enjoy writing,btw!) for now I choose only one worth-mentioning example to demonstrate how the cross-border emergency care has improved – and that is an improvement in child emergency care between the border cities Gronau and Enschede.

Sadly, due to a lack of capacities, there is no emergency department for children on the German side of the border in the city of Gronau. Luckily, there is one on the Dutch side of the border, only around 10 kilometres further, in Enschede. Any idea how to solve it? Are you also asking if the hospital in Enschede could take over in a children emergency care for the children from Gronau and surrounding area? As this is the happy post, the answer is: YES! :)

Yes, it can and since 2015 it is a reality! Such an important achievement in cross-border emergency care on a local level, given the fact that otherwise children patients (and their parents) from Gronau would need to travel a 30 kilometres distance to the closest children emergency department on the German side of the border (more info: https://rettungohnegrenzen.de/ergebnisse/faelle/gronau-enschede/).

Thumbs up and applause!

And one more general applause for a cross-border cooperation that seeks to help those in needs and save lives over the borders, without borders!

It may sounds rather simple – yes, sure, with life at stake and people are in danger, who cares about the borders?! We often take these kind of things for granted, but the development of a cross-border cooperation does not happen overnight, especially in emergency care and crisis situations.

Covered behind this all is a lot of effort, energy, time devoted and motivation of hard-working people sharing a common vision.

The PRE-pare project proves that ”impossible is nothing”, but, we, citizens need to be reminded of what stands behind. No less important is our participation. On that account, as a part of the PRE-pare project, the online platform for citizens and professionals was introduced. The platform encourages citizens to share their ideas /suggestions to get involved and thus to improve a cross-border emergency care and cross-border health cooperation (more info: https://rettungohnegrenzen.de/meldestelle/).

The final symposium of PRE-pare – Borderless rescuing was completed by the speech of the director of EUREGIO Gronau - Ch. Almering, who pointed out the importance of cross-border cooperation:

“To make our citizens sure that they will always be taken care of and will get helped in emergency, makes our border region not only more attractive but it also builds a strong trust and encourages people to boldly cross the borders, fearless to work, study, or to go shopping on the other side of the border.. Thank you all for your involvement and let us continue on a way to improve emergency care in our border region and let us keep on building strong borderless friendship!”

And I have nothing left to say, thus, let me only repeat:

Applause to people involved in the project! I wish you lots of cross-border rescuing stories with happy endings!


Till next time!

Be PRE-pared! J

Border(less) IVY Volunteer Monika

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