Safety and security are paramount in PCC
The issue of safety and security is one which obviously needs to be addressed in a building which hosts a lot of international events with a large number of participants every year. Naturally, this is also an issue of fundamental importance for the organisers. Protection of visitors is a priority for the safety and security teams in Prague Congress Centre and they pride themselves on careful implementation of preventive measures before the start of each major or international event.
PCC has its own team of experienced staff who undergo regular training and certification. Several departments take care of safety and security in the centre:
- Security Department – the main base of operations is the PCC security control centre, which manages physical security processes and procedures using state-of-the-art technologies which are continually adapted to keep pace with the latest trends
- Information Technology Department - responsible for cyber security
- PCC Fire and Rescue Team – based directly in the building, its main task being to ensure fire safety and prevention on the premises of PCC and suitable conditions for fire safety and prevention during events which take place in the congress centre
Over the years, the safety and security teams have had the opportunity to try out both real crisis situations and also the largest counter-terrorism drill in the Czech Republic, which involved all components of the Integrated Rescue System. The Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the Annual Meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group also represented major security challenges, with important delegates from all over the world gathering in Prague. All this experience, together with the vitally important coordination with the Integrated Rescue System, makes PCC a place where you don’t have to worry about holding even the most important meetings.
In-house fire and rescue team
Our very own fire and rescue team is located directly in the building of Prague Congress Centre. The need for its existence on the premises of the building was already established during construction of PCC (1976-1981). This is due to the complexity of the building and the special technologies installed here which you won’t find anywhere else and which require constant supervision, and also due to the number of people moving around the building. Members of the fire and rescue team act as the first line of response. For example, if someone starts to feel sick during a congress, they are able to provide first aid and stabilise the person until the arrival of emergency services.
Security measures prior to holding of international events
The fire and rescue team has excellent knowledge of the whole building. There are a total of 3,500 doors and 2,000 rooms on the premises. The great advantage of the Congress Centre is that the building is divided into three parts and has a total of 11 entrances. It is therefore relatively easy to separate international events of a risky nature from other parts and in doing so to ensure secure areas. Before events like this take place, all of the rooms must be carefully checked due to the risk of a possible terrorist attack. The basis of this check is a search conducted by a bomb squad using specially trained sniffer dogs looking for hazardous substances. The condition of the air is also measured for the presence of toxic substances. After the inspection by the bomb squad, security of the building is assumed by the Police of the Czech Republic, however, the members of the fire and rescue team are always ready in case they need to intervene.
The members of the fire and rescue team work closely with the technical control room, which controls all of the equipment in the building – hot water, heating, ventilation and air conditioning. When a large event is held, a so-called perimeter is established around the building – a buffer zone set up by the Police and, depending on the size of the event, also in cooperation with the Fire Rescue Service of the City of Prague.
The largest counter-terrorism drill in the Czech Republic
The largest counter-terrorism drill in the Czech Republic, codenamed “Demon”, took place in PCC in 2018. The Police of the Czech Republic, 40 paramedics from the emergency medical service and other components of the Integrated Rescue System took part in the drill. Firefighters, paramedics and special units of the Czech Police forces (e.g., the Rapid Response Unit) all arrived in front of Prague Congress Centre ready for action. A police helicopter also flew over the building, dropping members of the response team onto the roof. These units took part in an on-site drill of the largest counter-terrorism operation in the territory of the Czech Republic to date. During the drill, dozens of mock terrorists attacked Prague Congress Centre following a pre-prepared scenario and took about two thousand hostages.
Evacuation – regular evacuation drills
Evacuation is also one of the things which the fire and rescue team is responsible for. The building is evacuated in the event of a fire, if there is any danger to people or, for example, a bomb threat is reported in the building. These situations are always handled in cooperation with the Integrated Rescue System. The head of the emergency response team decides on procedure for dealing with the situation as a whole, the evacuation itself is carried out by members of the fire and rescue team. Evacuation drills are regularly conducted in PCC, during which all of the occupants must be escorted out of the building in the shortest possible time.
Selected major events in PCC
Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union
For a period of six months in 2022, Prague Congress Centre was one of the main venues used during the Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union. This was very demanding in terms of ensuring security and required the cooperation of several components of the security and armed forces (Police of the Czech Republic, Municipal Police, Army of the Czech Republic, Fire Brigade of the Czech Republic and others).
Meeting of the International Monetary Fund
A meeting of the International Monetary Fund was held at the Congress Centre in 2000. During the five days over which the event took place, it was necessary to close off a large area with a buffer zone extending up to a distance of 500 m away from the building. Among others, this zone also included the Corinthia Hotel and a building used by the Police of the Czech Republic. The metro and the main arterial road through the city had to be closed off for security reasons due to thousands of protesters from all over Europe descending on the location.