Crisis management involves the prevention of emergencies, preparedness for them, emergency plans and mitigation of consequences as well as ensuring an uninterrupted supply of vital services. Emergency situations are events or a series of events that threaten lives or health of many people, cause major material damage, serious environmental damage and large-scale disruption of vital services.
When dealing with an emergency it is necessary to take additional measures or apply unusual management organisation, the government can declare an emergency situation in case of a natural disaster, a catastrophe or a large-scale spread of an infectious disease. The government appoints a single minister to govern the emergency situation and determines the emergency situation response co-ordinator. The declaration of an emergency situation gives the persons appointed more rights, for instance the right to oblige other people to perform certain works, enter buildings and limit traffic at the site of an emergency situation. The time of the start and end of the emergency situation shall be set out by the government.
It is important to constantly develop the field of crisis management. In order to increase the efficiency of coping with emergency situations, the Ministry of the Interior develops the legal environment related to crisis management.
The Ministry of the Interior has prepared and presented for discussion the plan for amending the Emergency Act. In order to ensure readiness of the state, the roles and the rights of the ministries and governmental agencies will be reviewed and principles of emergency plans will be worded more clearly.
The proposal is to clarify the concept of vital services in order to focus primarily on the services the interruption of which causes a threat to human life and health or functioning of the state.
Preparing for emergencies
In order to prepare for emergencies, risk analysis is prepared in cooperation between different agencies that allows to consistently evaluate what the main emergencies that threaten the population are, what their possible implications are, and whether we are ready to cope with such situations.
Risk analyses are prepared every two years, the most recent one was drawn in 2013. Seven types of emergencies were assessed as having a very high level of risk. These include, for example, large-scale coastal, marine and environmental pollution, epidemics and mass poisoning. For the first time, the latest risk analysis includes a plan for risk-reducing measures. It addresses activities of specific ministries that are necessary to prevent emergencies and alleviate their possible consequences.
Disaster Risk Management Summary of Estonia 2020 (622.12 KB, PDF)
Emergency response plans which determine the organisation of the emergency plan are prepared for dealing with major accidents and crises. The plans specify the emergency plan management structure, the tasks of agencies or persons involved, information exchange management and organisation of public emergency notification, organisation of international cooperation and other important matters.
Emergency plans are approved by a decision of the Government of the Republic. The drawing up of plans is necessary to ensure that relevant authorities and persons know how to behave in case of an emergency and to avoid or minimise damage to human health and property. So that the plans do not remain only on paper, they are regularly tested in the course of various training exercises.
Vital services are services the interruption of which would endanger the life or health of people, paralyse the functioning of the state or decrease the feeling of security in society. Providers of such services are obliged to prevent interruptions or ensure swift restoration of services where necessary. State institutions and enterprises have specific tasks in connection with ensuring the functioning of services, for instance preparation of risk analysis with regard to services and specific plans.