New emergency meeting points

  22.07.2021 Local News

Over the next two years, the municipalities of the Canton of Bern are to gradually establish a network of emergency meeting points. Preparations are also underway in the Saanenland.

Worst-case scenario: In the event of severe catastrophes such as earthquakes, storms or prolonged, widespread power outages, telephone and internet services could fail or there could be supply bottlenecks for everyday goods. In the worst case, fatalities must be expected because medical emergencies or fires cannot be reported in time.

This scenario has been drawn by the Canton of Bernʼs security directorate. It therefore wants all municipalities in the canton to participate in setting up a canton-wide network of 236 emergency meeting points over the next two years. The Office for Civil Protection, Sport and Military will provide conceptual and material support.

Obersimmental is ready
The website shows which municipalities have already set up emergency meeting points. Of the four municipalities in the Obersimmental, Boltigen, Zweisimmen and St. Stephan have already done so. There is no emergency meeting point yet in the Saanenland. Why is that?

Andreas Zoppas, head of security at the municipality of Saanen, explains that the planning of these emergency meeting points is the responsibility of the regional management body. “We are currently working with the municipalities of Lauenen and Gsteig to define the possible locations of such NTPs in the respective municipalities.” Appropriate applications will then be made to the canton before definitive decisions can be made. Upon request, Lauenen and Gsteig also signalled their willingness to set up emergency meeting points.

What exactly is an emergency meeting point?
Emergency meeting points are contact points for the affected population in emergency situations to receive information and help. Rooms in public buildings such as school buildings, gyms or multi-purpose halls are designated for emergeny meeting points. They will be operated by municipal staff together with members of civil defence organisations.

At those meeting points, it will be possible send emergency calls via POLYCOM, the radio network of the authorities and emergency services that is independent of the power grid. With their own emergency power supply, the emergency meeting points can continue operation during a power outage. In an emergency the population will be informed via radio and television announcements, via Alertswiss messages or – if these channels are no longer available – via speaker announcements in the municipalities.

Canton supports municipalities
According to Bernʼs security director and cantonal councillor Philippe Müller, the municipalities have a key role to play setting up emergency meeting points, because: “No one knows the local conditions better and is on the spot faster in the event of an incident than the municipality itself.” He promises that the municipalities can count on the active support of the canton.



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