An emergency is an event or chain of events that endangers the lives or health of many people, causes large-scale property damage or environmental damage or serious and extensive disruptions in the sustainability of a vital service, and the resolution of which requires prompt concerted action by a number of authorities or the persons involved by them.

Emergencies are almost always unexpected, although under certain conditions, it is possible to predict their occurrence (e.g. storm warnings). When receiving warnings, specific crisis management measures can be put in place to help mitigate the effects of a possible emergency.

In order to assess the different hazards and risks of an emergency, emergency risk analyses are prepared, which allow a systematic assessment of which events may develop into an emergency and which may not. The evaluation also analyses the readiness and capacity of the agency and partners to identify significant deficiencies and plan measures to address or reduce them. The risk analysis is prepared by the authority designated as the lead authority for the emergency.

Emergency risk assessments shall be prepared for the following events:

  • rescue event – Estonian Rescue Board
  • police event – Police and Border Guard Board
  • cyber incident – Information System Authority
  • radiation or nuclear accident – Environmental Board
  • health event – Health Board
  • animal disease – Agriculture and Food Board

The current risk assessment of a rescue event has been prepared by the Estonian Rescue Board in 2020. Risk assessment of the rescue event contains different types of subevents, for example transportation accidents, storms, floods, explosions, etc.

The organisation of tackling emergencies is separately reflected about each emergency in Emergency Action Plans (EAPs), which are prepared by the authorities responsible for compiling the EAPs established by the Government of the Republic. The organisation of the preparation of EAPs gives us confidence that there are supra-institutional situation-specific EAPs in the country for the highest-risk emergencies.

List of emergencies requiring an emergency plan as at 2021:

Estonian Rescue Board

  • flooding in a densely populated area
  • a major industrial accident

The Police and Border Guard Board

  • mass immigration of refugees
  • sudden attack
  • mass disorder
  • a major marine rescue event, including marine pollution

Environmental Board

  • a radiation accident in a neighbouring country
  • a domestic radiation accident

Health Board

  • extensive poisoning
  • epidemic

Information System Authority

  • cyber incident

Agriculture and Food Board

  • animal disease

Estonian Internal Security Service

  • the abusive or terrorist use of a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or explosive weapon