Problems are Holger Pinske’s everyday life, solving them is his passion. At the International Youth Convention, they have so far kept within limits: a light in the sleeping hall that did not go out at night; a bottle of vinegar that burst on the floor of the catering hall; a blocked toilet... All these difficulties have been reported to the IYC headquarters in the past hours and have been solved quickly.Small obstacles, quick help. But in the next four days, more serious things could happen to Deacon Holger Pinske and his team from the IYC Control Centre. More than 30,000 people are expected to attend the International Youth Convention until Sunday. „It is normal that things do not go one hundred percent and without problems“, says Pinske. But he is not worried: "You can always find a solution for everything". And that's exactly his job.
For three years, Pinske has been preparing for the International Youth Convention 2019. He has put together a team of experienced, mostly New Apostolic staff - police officers, firefighters, security staff and other experts, some of whom he already knew from the European Youth Convention 2009. They are all used to dealing with crisis situations. This also applies to Holger Pinske: In "real" life, the 56-year-old manager heads the Control Centre of the Krefeld Criminal Investigation Department. "You develop a routine for certain procedures", Pinske says. But the challenge for him lies in unpredictable situations: coping with crises in the shortest possible time or de-escalating tricky situations - should they arise.
The quiet before the storm
In the Control Centre, which is accommodated in a protected area in Hall 7, the quiet before the rush prevails the mood on Thursday morning. In the course of the day, New Apostolic Christians from all over the world will arrive at the Düsseldorf Exhibition Centre: special trains were organized, buses chartered, car pools formed. The staff of the control center has everything in view - partly in the truest sense of the word: cameras transmit pictures from the underground station and from the exhibition halls to the control center offices. It is connected by radio and telephone with the helpers working in the halls below, as well as with the Rheinbahn and the Düsseldorf Police. In emergency cases, it can be reacted quickly. If, for example, the halls become too crowded, we give instructions from here, saying that no more people are allowed to get in," says Holger Pinske.
And, of course, there are security requirements when so many people come together. "Since the European Youth Convention (EYC) in 2009, these regulations have been tightened up considerably," says Pinske. A development that now makes many events more complicated - on the one hand because the costs are rising, and on the other hand because the organization is becoming more complex. Therefore, Pinke's staff is larger this time compared to the EYC ten years ago, due to the additional safety precautions required: The core staff consists of more than 50 people; in the main rush time, up to a hundred people volunteer in the offices.
Connected with police and fire brigade
There are three areas in the control center: One is the central control room, which is manned 24 hours a day. Here, all calls of the IYC hotline come together in a call center. Many questions can quickly be answered by the employees themselves on the phone. If things are getting more complex, they know who is responsible and they can pass on the phone call.
The office next door, area two, resembles to a mess: desk next to desk, laptop to laptop, cables allover, screens and flipcharts everywhere. "Employees from all areas who are responsible for the organization of the IYC are working here," explains Pinske. All information of the IYC are combined at this location and, in order to provide everyone with the information he needs to work, there is an up-to-date status report once an hour. On Thursday morning the report is still quite short: The arrival of the people runs in a controlled manner, only in hall 6 there is a "security gap": This meeting center should actually not be opened before 1 p.m., but already hours before, IYC- participants queue up and want to enter the hall. Now it is important to react quickly, because, as long as not all stands are set up in this hall, no unauthorized persons are allowed to get in for safety reasons. Shortly after the problem became known, Bishop Manfred Bruns gave the all-clear signal: The entrance doors were closed, the helpers at the doors were instructed accordingly and the situation relaxed.
Manfred Bruns is, along with Holger Pinske and his deputy Mathias Mörretz, one of the most important men in the Control Centre: the former deputy head of the Wuppertal Criminal Investigation Department is the official IYC event manager and, at the same time, the linking person between the New Apostolic Church as organizer of the IYC and official institutions such as the City of Düsseldorf and the Düsseldorf fair administration, the police and fire brigade or rescue services. Employees of all mentioned organizations and authorities have their working space in area three of the Control Centre. Pinske calls this place the "external contact office": "These colleagues don't care about what we do at the IYC. They merely monitor that we comply with all requirements and, if necessary, inform us if this is not the case."
The IYC is no routine
For the employees of the Control Centre, it is not possible to take part in the multiple events of the Youth Convention. They work shifts, some of them are on 24-hour standby. This is necessary because the International Youth Convention is an extraordinary event, even for the staff of the Düsseldorf exhibition center: "Football matches and concerts often take place," explains Manfred Bruns. "But the fact that almost 30,000 people are walking around on the exhibition center and the Arena as well, normally does not happen. You have to be prepared for that."
It is the control center team who has been playing through all eventualities for months. The team has been trying to imagine what might happen at such a big event like the IYC. For the access to the Arena, for example, walking routes were worked out which all participants have to adhere to. The reason is: "Only a certain number of people is allowed to stay in one place at the same time. If there are more people, we have to intervene." The routes help to control the masses in advance. This will be most important at the opening event of the Youth Day on Friday morning, and the Pop Oratorio, at the evening event "Here, there, everywhere" as well as at the divine service on Sunday.
Holger Pinske will only be able to observe the IYC 2019 backstage: "I didn't come here with the aim of attending many events. It's a shame, but nevertheless, I feel the atmosphere”, he said. And he remembers one thing from the European Youth Day 2009: "When young people still stand together in the middle of the night and sing together, it's really enormous.” At best, Pinske will only see something like this from his camp bed that he has set up in his office in the control center. He spends four or five hours a night sleeping in his office. Not much, "but I didn't come here to sleep," he says.