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In early 2011, the European Commission - Directorate General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (European Commission, Directorate-General for Humanitarian AID AND CIVIL PROTECTION; ECHO A5, Civil Protection Prevention, Preparedness and Disaster Risk Reduction Unit Office) issued a call for co-financing of European projects the field of prevention and preparedness in the European civil protection system.

At the end of 2011 the project (an acronym is EU Proteus - s. No. SI2.614249) was adopted in co-financing by the European Commission. Cave Rescue Service of the Speleological Association of Slovenia (JRS) got a part in that tender with the project titled ˝Raising Awareness and Improving Effectiveness of Cave Rescuing within Community Civil Protection Mechanism˝; partner on the project is Croatian Mountain Rescue Service – Commission for cave rescue (HGSS).
EU Proteus is a 24 month long project (2012 and 2013) and is the first large European cave rescue project. Beside Slovenian and Croatian cave rescuers in certain activities cave rescuers from the South East Europe (Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Turkey, Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary) and France will work.

EU Proteus aims towards the better organisation of cave rescue in Slovenia and Croatia by analysing the current situation, preparation of common standards and studying the conditions that exist in other organisations from Participating States. This goal is to enhance the awareness and preparedness of cavers and to improve the preparedness and effectiveness of cave rescuers (emergency response).
The project will carried out studies on the identification and description of working conditions and hazards that occur in caves. For internal needs a complex cadastral review of Slovenian and Croatian caves deeper than 500 meters and / or greater than 4000 meters will be performed. Basic rules for safe entry and work in the caves will be reviewed and revised if necessary - with particular reference to the existing legislation which applies to caving activity in Slovenia and Croatia.
The bulk of the tasks of the project will be implemented by 28 cave rescue team (members of the JRS and HGSS), which will be formed in the unit for international cave rescue operation in the EU (after a commitment from the project for a period of 24 months). Cave rescuers will be intensively trained in Slovenia and Croatia, and will conduct joint trainings. Some of them will be actively involved in the preparation of the program CRT (Cave Rescue Training); instructors will also work in the international CRT which will be held in Slovenia (2012) and in Croatia in 2013.
Utmost importance for caving and cave rescue is the safety of rescuers and cavers. Because of this within the EU Proteus also a testing and comparison of the caving equipment will be performed. Testing will be done dynamically - during trainings and other activities within the project, certain tests will be performed in an accredited laboratory for mechanical testing equipment.

In case if JRS and HGSS international rescue unit will not be involved in any major cave rescue action in the territory of the EU; in late 2013 a cave rescue exercise in a cave from a place deeper than 500 meters will be realized.
Partial and final results of the project will be presented at the 6th Balkan Cavers Meeting in Slovenia and on 16th International Congress of Speleology in Brno 2013 and published in various publications by caving theme.

EU Proteus Project Manager
dr. Maks Merela