Looking back at

NCT Virtual Europe 2021

NCT Virtual Europe 2021, was the third NCT event of the year, organized in official partnership with the JCBRN Defence Center of Excellence connecting key actors from the government, NGO and industry! During this two-day event, 31 March-1 April 2021, stakeholders from the European CBRNe, EOD, and C-IED, Demining –community came together to exchange knowledge in an interactive environment. High-level speakers shared their insights on the most pressing issues and challenges facing the CBRNe community at large during the multifaceted conference sessions and panel discussions chaired by BG (Ret.) William King, Former Commander of the US Army 20th CBRNe Command.

The 322 attendees proved their interest in the NCT Virtual platform and conference by joining from all around Europe and beyond! Delegates from France, Slovakia, Denmark, Czech Republic, Sweden but also the United States, Taiwan, Singapore Brazil, Myanmar, Ecuador and many more also joined the two-day conference. The 6,646 content views showed once again how accessible the NCT virtual platform is! In addition, the engagement from the attendees was remarkable as the questions they posed made the conference even more interactive for our speakers as well as for the audience.

In total NCT Virtual Europe hosted 28 exhibitors! Companies were able to engage with delegates and prospective clients. While various pavilions allowed government agencies and organizations to highlight their work in the field, and for the international and national delegates to learn more about these organizations, namely, the Fire Rescue Service of the Czech Republic, the Federal Administration of Civil Protection Bosnia and Herzegovina, 7th Regiment of CBRN Defense 'Cremona', the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

Conference Day 1

What better way to start a conference than with a topic focused on EU and NATO’s Preparedness Against CBRN and Explosive Events! COL Wolfgang Reich, Deputy Director, JCBRN Defence Center of Excellence kicked off the day with his insights on the JCBRND activities in civil and military cooperation as well as the level of interactions between the EU and NATO. He was supported by Mr. Hybl, Legal Advisor, JCBRN Defence Center of Excellence who provided an explanation of the legal framework under which the Center of Excellence operates. MAJ Cynthia Garceau, Neutralization Section Chief, C-IED Centre of Excellence then shared her knowledge with a presentation on NATO Allies and Partner’s nations preparedness against CBRNe and Explosive Events. Ms. Isabel de la Mata, Principal Advisor for Health and Crisis Management of the European Commission gave a presentation on the EU’s CBRN Preparedness and extended on a proposal for the creation of a European Health Union. The first session ended with Dr. Frank Sabath, Head of Directorate 200, Detection, Bundeswher Research Institute for Protective Technologies and CBRN Protection (WIS), Germany who spoke about the role of the Joint CBRN Defence Capability Development Group its contribution to NATO preparedness against CBRN events. The second session of Day 1 focused on Transnational CBRN & Explosive Threats: Lessons Learned and Upcoming Challenges. The panel session started off with Mr. Barend Cochez, Police Liason, CBRNe Expertise Centre of the Federal Crisis Center, Belgium. He offered an analysis on Belgian preparedness in transnational CBRNe threats and gave an overview of numerous transnational projects involving the Federal Crisis Centre. He was followed by Mr. Zoran Sandev, Specialized officer CBRNe from INTERPOL who introduced the role and structure of the bioterrorism prevention unit as well as several transnational projects they coordinate. Maj. Georgios Gkanalas, EOD/IEDD/CBRNe SME, Hellenic Air Force, Greece concluded the session with his insights on transnational CBRNe threats from a Greek point of view. The four presentations were then followed by a 45-minutes panel discussion moderated by our chairman. The role of interagency and international cooperation was mentioned as an essential element in preventing and fighting transnational threats. Every speaker brought his view on the abovementioned issues, creating an interesting and stimulating discussion on transnational issues and threats.

Conference Day 2

The second day of the conference started off with a panel session on Opportunities for Cooperation in Mine Action and EOD in Europe. The first to take the floor was Mr. Sead Vrana, Head of the EOD Department, Federal Department of Civil Protection, Bosnia Herzegovina who talked about historical research as a tool in the residual unexploded bomb risk assessment. He was followed by Ms. Maragarita Lazyan, CHDE Head of EORE/VA Department, Center for Humanitarian Demining and Expertise, Armenia who went over mine action in Armenia, the activities of her organizations in demining and focused on the international cooperation projects her organization participated in. She was followed by the team presentation given by Cpt. Martin Klusacek, Deputy Head of EOD Education and Training Department and Lt. Col. Hugyar, Head of EOD Education and Training Department, NATO EOD Center of Excellence. They presented the activities of the NATO EOD COE as a catalyst for improvement and transformation in EOD matters. Mr. Mathieu Johnathan Waeber, Learning and Development Manager, Weapon Contamination Unit of the International Red Cross Committee was the third speaker of this session and introduced his unit along with the mitigation of risk in mine action in Europe. He was followed by Mr. Jeremy Berast, Head of Sales for Air and Land, ECA Group who focused on cooperative unmanned systems in CBRN & EOD environment. As an industry representative he gave a useful insight on technological development and achievements. The session concluded with an active panel discussion that focused on challenges and cooperation in Europe regarding the challenge surrounding demining and EOD. The role of NATO EOD Center of Excellence andthe ICRC was pointed out in international cooperation, education and trainings. The discussion was concluded with the role of technology and technological development in the EOD sector. Notably, the needs and issues of first responders and EOD operators were presented to the industry partner, showing once again the importance of public-private cooperation and dialogue.

The second and last session of the day focused on response to CBRN Public Health Crises and Mass Casualty Events. The session started with Dr. Claudia Chatelus, Emergency Doctor, Colmar Hospital, France who shared her insights, gathered on the field, as she was directly involved in the fight against COVID-19 in France. She highlighted the importance of multi-agency response and European cooperation during the crisis. Her speech was followed by Mr. Thorsten Hackl’s, Radiation Protection Expert and Chemical Advisor, Region of Central-West Brabant, the Netherlands who spoke about the procedures in place to respond to a radiological incident. After the networking break, Cpt. Daniele del Gaudio, Head of the CBRN Specialized Support Office, 7th Regiment of CBRN Defence “Cremona”, Italy focused on the nature, structure and functions of his regiment. To conclude this last session of the event, Col. David Bates, Senior Lecturer in Disaster Response, Cumbria University, United Kingdom spoke about how on-line transformative learning has been applied to create individual development and organizational capability to counter CBRN threats in a Public Health Context.

We would like to sincerely thank all our delegates and speakers as well as our sponsors: Karcher; Bruker; Heyl; Siga; Meridian; ECA group; NBC Sys and Airsense. We are looking forward to seeing you in-person for NCT CBRNe Europe on 5-7 October 2021. In the meantime, remember to tune in for the NCT Virtual Hub - Novichoks and Pharmaceutical Based Agents on May 4, 2021!

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