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Major NBC exercise in the Bernese Oberland

Germany and Switzerland practise six challenging emergency scenarios involving chemical, radioactive and biological hazards.

27.06.2023 | Communication Spiez Laboratory


From 19 to 23 June 2023, units of Germany’s professional fire brigades specialised in NBC hazards, the Analytical Task Force (ATF), carried out an exercise around Spiez and at the military training ground in Thun. The ATFEX 2023 exercise involved six challenging scenarios in which these specialised forces were confronted with the simulated release of hazardous chemical, radioactive and biological substances. Almost 60 participants from all ATF locations (Berlin, Dortmund, Essen, Hamburg, Cologne, Leipzig, Mannheim and Munich) took part in the exercise. Around 55 personnel from Switzerland also participated; 35 experts from the Federal Office of Civil Protection’s Spiez Laboratory, 15 members of the Swiss Armed Forces’ NBC EOD Centre of Competence and 5 specialists from Bern’s professional fire brigade, who were responsible in one scenario for decontaminating the sampling teams. In addition, 10 observers as well as several guests from Germany and Switzerland, including the president of Germany’s Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK) and the director of Switzerland’s Federal Office of Civil Protection (FOCP), also travelled to Lake Thun to attend the ATFEX 2023 exercise.

The event is part of a series of major NBC exercises that take place every two years in Germany. Switzerland has participated in previous events with a team from the Swiss Armed Forces’ specialised NBC response team, EEVBS. This year’s ATFEX exercise in the Bernese Oberland is the first time it has taken place in Switzerland. The event was organised by Spiez Laboratory in cooperation with the German BBK.

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