B-FAST is an interdepartmental structure which organizes the dispatching of Belgian emergency assistance abroad. Belgian assistance abroad is coordinated at European level. At the request of the EU, Belgium then sends a B-FAST team (Belgian First Aid and Support Team).
The composition of a B-FAST team depends on the type of intervention and therefore on the type of disaster (floods, pollution, earthquakes, tidal waves, etc.).
The Civil Protection makes three types of contribution available to B-FAST:
- Permanent modules (intervention teams), which are standardized and approved according to international quality standards, by the European authorities. The Civil Protection has available a FRUB (Flood Rescue Using Boats) module and an HCP (High Capacity Pumping) module.
- Ad hoc capacities – according to the situation and the request from the affected country – such as teams specialized in the CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological & nuclear) detection who have measurement vehicles and a mobile laboratory available, and are therefore able to quickly analyze samples of potentially dangerous products directly on the spot, and who also possess a high level of expertise, maybe along with means of decontamination, drones, etc.
- As a response service in charge of logistical support, should a disaster occur in Belgium, the Civil Protection also makes logistics specialists available to B-FAST and to its partner organizations. These experts can, for instance, provide backup to the Public Health's water purification capacities or help the partner organizations with the transportation of their means of intervention. Among other things, the Civil Protection contributed, along with the Belgian Federal Police, to the development of a DVI (Disaster Victim Identification) expertise within the Thai Police (after the 2004 tsunami) and to the deployment of the UC Louvain's B-Life biological mobile laboratory in Guinea (during the Ebola fever epidemic in 2014-2015).