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Organizational Response to Heat Waves

Funded by the Austrian research promotion programme KIRAS, the project ORESP (Organizational Response to Heat Waves) aimed at optimizing the heat wave management of the Austrian Red Cross (AutRC) - the largest provider within the third sector with core competencies in the fields of emergency rescue and ambulance services, disaster relief, health and community services as well as blood service. It is through an effective heat management that mortality and morbidity resulting from excessive heat exposure in the primary risk groups (people over 65, newborns and toddlers, chronically ill and marginalized persons as well as older migrants) could be reduced.

ORESP analyzed the disaster management processes of the AutRC for their suitability on heat waves and initiated measures for optimization. The strategy defined for AutRC's heat wave activities, set priorities in preventive preparation of the population, especially vulnerable target groups, thus increasing self-help capabilities, as well as behavioral optimization of those affected by a given heat exposure. Particular focus was laid on communicating that people bear social responsibility in their own social environment.

An effective and comprehensive heat wave management needs to happen in coordination and cooperation with the responsible authorities, other emergency services, the services of the health and social services and the media, involving place of scientific knowledge and use of an efficient early warning system. Therefore the interface management with those other players in the crisis and disaster management was considered by the involvement of an external expert group. 

Based on contemporary international findings and solutions, information for the general public and specific health care target groups was developed. In collaboration with project partners, channels of communication were analyzed to raise the awareness of the population and inform the appropriate target groups, with special attention to the high-risk groups, which are in parts only accessible indirectly. Finally, a radio campaign for the project partner Hitradio Ö3 was designed for its use in the event of a heat wave.

Project leader:
Österreichisches Rotes Kreuz – Generalsekretariat

Project partner:
Österreichisches Rotes Kreuz – Forschungsinstitut
Universität für Bodenkultur – Institut für Produktionswirtschaft und Logistik
Hitradio Ö3

Gerry Foitik, Austrian Red Cross, +43 1 58900 - 132