What are the waterborne pathogen challenges, and how are they affecting the first responders? How should they react to enhance the resilience of European cities to waterborne threats and disasters?
Emergency response to waterborne pathogens challenges
Pathogens are a determining factor in emergency response due to their life-threatening nature, both for the public as for the safety of first responders. In many cases, pathogen contaminations are challenging to detect, and require specialized technologies, tools and procedures to handle them. Pathogens can quickly spread via water and may contaminate large areas far from their origin. Waterborne pathogen contamination events can occur anywhere and may be the result of various natural events or of human activity, either accidental or malicious. During these emergencies, first responders may need to operate within a particular pre-defined incident area and are likely to be exposed to contaminated water originating from various sources, such as surface water, wastewater or drinking water. This situation is a significant risk of illness, disease or even death, through skin contact, ingestion or inhalation.
What is PATHOCERT?
PATHOCERT is a H2020 European project with the overall objective to strengthen the coordination capability of the first responders in handling waterborne pathogen contamination events. The project aims 1) to increase the first responders’ capabilities, 2) facilitate the rapid and accurate detection of pathogens, 3) improve their situational awareness, and their ability to control and mitigate emergencies involving waterborne pathogens. The project will research and demonstrate Pathogen Contamination Emergency Response Technologies (PathoCERT). It will lead to a collection of novel, cost-effective and easy-to-use technologies, tools and guidelines, which will be field-validated by the first responders, demonstrated and validated in five Case Studies in the Netherlands (Amsterdam), Greece, Cyprus, Spain and Bulgaria.
KWR main contribution and role in PATHOCERT
Within PATHOCERT, KWR will:
- research and demonstrate a holistic tool (PathoTHREAT) to rapidly assess the threat and evaluate control options in these water contamination scenarios.
- research, develop and assess tools (joint protocols and decision support software) to assist First Responders (public health, law enforcement and water utility) to evaluate the threat, find the source and reduce the impact of waterborne pathogen contaminations.
- collaborate with WATERNET in developing the PathoTHREAT tool
- lead the outreach activities through Watershare, as other Watershare members (KIST, EURECAT, NTUA) are also participating in the project.