The #SIQUAKE2020 Final Planning Conferences (FPC) for the implementation of the international Full Scale Exercise (FSX) took place on Wednesday, September 8 and Friday, September 10, 2021. The two conferences were adapted to the epidemiological situation and were carried out in virtual form at the Zoom application, on Wednesday for Slovenian and on Friday for foreign participants of the FSX, which is scheduled to take place between 4 and 8 October 2021 in central Slovenia.

Representatives of Slovenian organizations that will participated in FSX were invited to the conference on Wednesday. On Friday, representatives of foreign organizations and rescue units from Austria, Croatia, Italy and Hungary that will participate in FSX as well as representatives of the European Commission attended the conference. Since the Federal Agency for Technical Relief and other units from Germany have cancelled their participation in FSX due to the epidemiological situation, their representatives did not attend the conference. The purpose of both final planning conferences was to present all organizational aspects of FSX, the participation of national and international stakeholders, worksites and other necessary information for participation in the exercise. The participants were again acquainted with the basic information about the #SIQUAKE2020 project and the objectives of the planned exercise, which was originally scheduled for May 2020. Past activities and events leading to the FSX were highlighted as well.

Prior to the FSX, which will bring together hundreds of participants from five countries to central Slovenia, the exercise organizers from the Administration of the Republic of Slovenia for Civil Protection and Disaster Relief and the City of Ljubljana presented a detailed exercise scenario. The scenario is based on the assumption of an earthquake with an intensity of VIII on the EMS in the early morning in central Slovenia on the first (preparation) day of the exercise. Under such a scenario, 500 buildings would be demolished, 5,000 would be severely damaged, and another 40,000 would be moderately damaged. In such an event, the National Protection and Rescue Plan in the event of an earthquake and the protection, rescue and relief forces would be activated at all levels. Due to the large scale of the accident, Slovenia would request international assistance through the Union Civil Protection Mechanism.

According to the scenario, the organizers planned the activities and formed a timetable and presented them in detail at the conference. The prospective participants of the FSX gained a more detailed insight into the structure of the exercise, locations in Logatec, Vrhnika and Ljubljana, where the activities will take place, the base of operations and the support of the Host Nation Support (HNS). At the same time, safety and security and COVID-19 protocols were explained. Foreign organizations and units confirmed their participation in the FSX and received additional information on the observers and VIP programme, communication and awareness raising and evaluation of the exercise.

The events gave an opportunity to address open questions to the organizers and get the necessary information for the successful and, above all, safe implementation of the FSX which is first international practical exercise in the field of protection against natural and other disasters since the beginning of the COVID-19 epidemic in Slovenia. Implementation of FSX will bring new knowledge in the field of earthquake response and international cooperation, as well as valuable experiences on the operation of units in difficult epidemiological conditions. The experiences of earthquakes and other disasters in last year has taught us that disasters do occur despite the epidemic, so we must adapt the operation of protection, rescue and relief forces to the current situation.