Supporting international medical responses during the COVID-19 pandemic: the NO-FEAR network

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Trilateral Research |

Date: 28 September 2020

When the NO-FEAR project was launched in 2018, the large-scale threats it expected to address involved security-related incidents such as terrorism, including Chemical, Biological, Nuclear, and Radiation (CBRN) incidents.

Dangers like these remain, as sadly shown by the August 4 ammonium nitrate explosion in Beirut. Throughout 2020, however, the project’s network of emergency medical practitioners and suppliers have changed their focus (alongside other EU projects) to address the global, ongoing viral concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic.

NO-FEAR’s webinars and discussions have offered a space for the projects’ key stakeholders – international medical professionals and representatives from industry, research and policy.

Responses to COVID-19

Responses to COVID-19 are being worked out on the ground by first responders, medical professionals, scientific innovators and experts around the world.  NO-FEAR connects these diverse actors so they can tap into each other’s wealth of experience.

International, inter-agency communication is valuable because large-scale emergencies require medical, fire, relief, security, and other personnel to rapidly assess dangerous situations and provide care to those in need. Yet responders may speak ‘different languages’, figuratively and literally. Protocols and equipment differ between agencies internationally and (sometimes) within the same country.

The pandemic prompted an increase in the number of NO-FEAR events, now held online for greater reach and to avoid risks associated with long-distance travel and in-person gatherings.

While NO-FEAR is a European Union project, the networks it is building is global. Recent small-group discussions have connected professionals from five continents, all dealing with the same virus. NO-FEAR puts them in conversation, to pool knowledge and discuss their own local responses.

Topics recently discussed in practitioner-focused webinars have included:

  • immediate response factors such as ventilation techniques
  • handling COVID-19 during otherwise-routine calls
  • appropriate levels of personal protective equipment (PPE) for different scenarios
  • potential new treatments like convalescent plasma and public education
  • practical considerations like call centre management
  • testing staff and caring for them in quarantine

Discussions have also addressed psycho-social responses to PPE, both among responders adapting to a ‘new normal’ and patients who may view masks and other gear as either a sign of security or danger.

To connect suppliers with providers so they can better understand each other’s needs, NO-FEAR also hosted a webinar on new disinfection technologies, convened in response to first responders’ observations that chemical disinfectants were increasing wear and tear on their equipment.

NO-FEAR project allows practitioners to talk with each other on the understanding that responses will adapt, knowledge accumulates, and situations will change. The speed at which COVID-19 treatments are evolving speaks to the need for practitioners to have up-to-date information.

COVID-19 is a global challenge, being addressed locally. NO-FEAR helps first responders share information to respond rapidly amid the ongoing situation, through online communication to learn how to locally implement techniques, use appropriate technology and address social factors.

NO-FEAR project is one of several projects at Trilateral Research addressing COVID-19, including STAMINA and EUNOMIA. Read more about our work in this area, our expert interviews. and an introductory podcast to the project and its COVID-19 response.

If you’re interested in joining as a practitioner or supplier – sign up for our mailing list or join the network portal for full access.


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