IF you found yourself among the commotion on the A-334 north of Almeria on April 24, you are probably wondering what the frenzy was about. Not to worry.
It was a drill, a simulation of a dangerous chemical spill involving a tanker truck carrying sulfuric acid, a resulting fire, and the urgent call for emergency medical attention.
The drill, involving 50 rapid responders, included the evacuation of 500 people from the nearby area, assessing the risk of explosion, the rescue of the trapped driver, cutting off the road and rerouting traffic, cordoning off a 600 metre radius safety zone, the treatment of a injured rescue worker, the extinction of the subsequent fire and the logistical problem of preventing its spread to a nearby heavily wooded area replete with steep ravines.
The coordination of real-time events such as these is a monumental task.
Enter the Andalusian Emergency Group (acronym GREA) – an organisation dedicated to taking the leading role in emergency events such as: earthquakes, floods, forest fires, explosions, traffic accidents, mass evacuations, crowd control (both hostile and peaceful), terrorism and civil unrest etc.
The organization, born in 2005, had two headquarters— a western command post in Sevilla and an eastern facility in Jaen.
Until last week when a third headquarters became operational in Benahavis, near Marbella, to better serve the busy Cadiz to Malaga corridor.
To be sure, the importance of emergency ‘first responders’, those among the first to arrive on the disaster scene, is paramount.
Whether it be a firefighter, medical technician, law enforcement or military/security personnel, their job is to provide immediate on-site support service.
Their training is specialised and specific in nature. It is the mission statement of the GREA to protect communities by coordination and integrating those disparate talents.
GREA’s role is bringing those different elements into an efficient ‘big-picture, site specific’ harmony and coordinators stress the importance of preparation, available resources, and training to make sure that services are ready should an actual crisis arise.
Additionally, an organization like GREA can more efficiently direct the ever-changing world of technology (drones, helicopters ,alert systems, GPS tracking systems, social media platforms, etc.) to mitigate disasters.
The opening of the new GREA headquarters in Benahavis just made life in this part of the world that much safer. The Costa del Sol welcomes you.