FR in action

One of the previous considerations of the INGENIOUS project is that Today’s First Responders (FR) are using technology of the past. During their primary mission of saving lives and preserving society’s safety and security, FRs face a multitude of challenges.

In both small scale emergencies and large scale disasters, they often deal with life-threatening situations, hazardous environments, uncharted surroundings and limited awareness. Threats and hazards evolve rapidly, crossing municipalities, regions and nations with speed and ease. Armouring public safety services with all the tools that modern technology has to offer is critical. Such tools holistically enhance their protection and augment their operational capacities, assisting them in saving lives as well as ensuring their safe return from the disaster scene.

However, “more technology and tools” is not necessarily a solution towards empowering FRs. When firefighters, police officers and emergency medical services work in the field, they are often faced with “silo-ed” operations and overwhelming information flows. This should be dramatically reduced. What they need instead are intelligent, integrated, interconnected and seamless tools & services that add layers of protection against the dangers of their working environment and augment their situational awareness rather than distracting them from their mission.

To do this, INGENIOUS is developing a Next Generation Integrated Toolkit (NGIT) for Collaborative Response, which ensures a high level of protection and increased operational capacity to respond to the disaster scene. This comprises a multitude of tools and services required: 1) to enable the protection of first responders with respect to their health, safety and protection; 2) to enhance their operational capabilities by providing them with the means to carry out various response tasks and missions driven with autonomy, automation, precise positioning, optimal use of available resources and greater awareness and understanding; 3) to enable a shared response among first responders teams and disciplines by increasing their field of vision, information sharing, and communications between teams and with victims.

The NGIT armours the FRs at all fronts, by delivering novel, affordable, accepted and customised response tools and services as part of their uniform and as part of their operational assets. The NGIT will be provided at the service of the FRs for extensive testing and validation (at component and Toolkit levels) in the framework of a rich Training, Testing and Validation Programme – of Lab Tests (LSTs), Small-Scale Field Tests (SSTs) and Full-Scale Field Validations (FSXs) – towards powering the FR of the future being fully aware, fully connected and fully integrated.

And in this line, practitioners from 6 different countries are working on a wide variety of use cases in which they carry out their healthcare activities for citizens, where they can test and validate the technology provided by 16 partners from 12 different countries, as a way of ensuring that the results of the project are of great impact.

As an example, from ERTZAINTZA we want to share with you some examples of real situations that coincide with the use cases in which we are working.


At around 00:30 on March 8, 2020, a call was received at the Emergency Coordination Center (112) informing about the fall of a vehicle into the Urumea river, in Hernani (GIPUZKOA).

The rescue teams were activated, and a citizen security patrol from the Ertzaintza is the first to arrive, the agents managing to rescue two people from the river, leaving three other people inside the vehicle.

As a consequence of the strong current and the lack of visibility, it was not possible to confirm at that time whether the three disappeared persons were inside.

The rescue teams manage to locate the sunken vehicle in the river, at about 4:45 p.m., with the three people missing, aged between 56 and 59, who were inside the vehicle.

A crane has moved to the place, which at 9:00 pm has finally been able to extract the car from the waters with the lifeless bodies of the three occupants who had not managed to get out of the car. The Director of Emergency Care and Meteorology of the Basque Government has reported that the search work has been divided into three parts. On the one hand, a crew of firefighters has searched the highest area where, according to what he said, they had “the last reference in which the vehicle floated.” Divers from the Ertzaintza, on the other hand, have tracked down the deepest area (approximately six meters), where they have located the car, and members of the Red Cross have searched in the vicinity of the Karabel Bridge. A helicopter has also joined the search efforts.

The strong currents and the high flow of the river have made search work difficult.

Gas explosion in a Bar in Getxo (BIZKAIA) March 10, 2020

During the morning of March 10, 2020, a gas explosion occurred in the kitchen of a hospitality premises, injuring four people, and it was necessary to evict the residents of the property. Different agencies such as firefighters, local police, ERTZAINTZA, medical service, ambulances, etc participated in the incident.

Photo: EFE


On February 6, 2020, there was a landslide of materials from a waste landfill in the town of Zaldibar (BIZKAIA), resulting in the debris being buried by two workers from the company that manages the landfill.

Since then to date, rescue work has been carried out on missing persons using heavy machinery and rescue equipment with dogs and other equipment such as thermal camera RPAs, firefighters, and emergency personnel, as well as specialized personnel.

The tasks are very complex because it is a scenario with polluting materials, geologically unstable, which represents a great risk for the rescue teams, and also, in full alert by COVID 19. ERTZAINTZA, with different services and specialized units, contributes a large contingent of people with the aim of finding the bodies of the disappeared, coordinated by civil protection technicians from the Basque Government’s Security Department.


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