"Civil Protection" means all the structures and activities provided by the State to protect the integrity of life, the assets, the settlements and the environment from damage or danger deriving from natural calamities, catastrophes and other calamitous events.
The relief to the population in the event of calamity is the activity which often identifies the main function of civil defence, although over the years its competence has extended to the development of knowledge of the risks and actions to mitigate its effects. Law no. 225 dated 1992 creating the National Service actually also establishes that forecasting and preventing risks come within the activity of civil defence because they contribute to protecting people and safeguarding the territory.
The forecasting and prevention programmes are instruments to determine the intervention priorities and the times with which the civil protection actions should be actuated, according to the danger of an event, to the vulnerability of the territory and to the financial availability.
The programmes are the assumptions for the disaster management which outline the intervention procedures for an event contemplated in a certain scenario. The plans, and in general emergency relief, are based on the Augustus method, that is on a flexible planning, which has the objective of coordinating the components and the operative structures employed on the field.
The plans are verified with the civil protection exercises which also have the aim of training the operators and of making the population aware of the correct behaviour to adopt in the event of calamities. Communication campaigns and the other information activities also have the purpose of making each citizen aware of the risks of their local area and to make them participate in the prevention activity. Amongst these, voluntary activity and civil protection, which today has 1,300,000 members, is the phenomenon which best expresses the involvement of people in safeguarding and defending their own territory.