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Ponta Delgada ,  September 27, 2012

Azores Civil Protection is example for the country, says José Contente

A drill simulating the crash of an aircraft carrying 100 passengers was conducted at the João Paulo II airport in Ponta Delgada. The simulation involved the participation of a large number of entities.

This drill is compulsorily conducted every two years and is assessed by the INAC evaluators, who will certify the adequacy of the Plan.

The simulation was carried out with the purpose of testing the new Airport Emergency Plan (developed by ANA-Airports). The SRPCBA participated in the drill by putting into practice the operational doctrine for air accidents in addition to Regional Government's warning system.

On the occasion, José Contente said that "the drill and the emergency plan are unique in Portugal, being the result of the efforts undertaken by two different entities in terms of planning and solutions to improve coordination and use of resources provided by the airport and external entities."

"The organisation of the drill involved the participation of several entities. This simulation is an example nationwide, demonstrating the possibility of coordinating twenty national and regional entities and even the observers responsible for safety affairs in a training context that involved over 400 people," added the government official.

The Regional Governments led by Carlos César have carried out profound changes and considerable investments that reached 50 million Euros. In this context, one should recall the training course for firefighters, in which the number of themed courses grew from 5 to 19 (investment over 3.7 million Euros). With regard to the training course and awareness raising action for the population, the themed flyers were replaced by 20 projects, including: "Safe School" (11,500 students), "Civil Protection Clubs" (7,500 students), "Growing up in Safety" (covered the nine islands) and "Senior Safety"; the latter reached the 85 Social Centres across the archipelago.

Moreover, José Contente recalled that "in 1996 there were 42 ambulances and now we have 101 ambulances (3.8 million Euro investment). In the same period of time, the ambulance crews grew from 106 members to 193 (22 million Euro investment). We have provided training courses on advanced life support (ALS) to 78 rescue ambulance crew members (TAS) and automated external defibrillator (AED) to 60 crew members."

In this context, 112 calls will be dispatched by SRPCBA. A new emergency service has entered into operation since the beginning of 2012; SIV ambulances (Immediate Life Support) have been called 3500 times and saved countless lives.

With regard to the re-equipment of fire departments, a total of 189 vehicles were purchased for 17 fire brigades, representing an investment over 10 million Euros. Some fire brigades are also equipped with other rescue means for operations in the sea, including 7 vessels operated by 40 trained firefighters. In terms of infrastructures, we have built or renewed 14 buildings of several Associations. Furthermore, we have invested over 5 million Euros in the emergency communications network to enhance its quality and reliability. The network connects Fire Departments, Hospitals, Health Centres, Municipalities and the Regional Government, including the SRPCBA dispatch. As a result of the credibility of SRPCBA, Portugal participated in a European drill that took place in Italy - MESIMEX (Vesuvius, 2006). In 2011, the Assembly of European Regions distinguished the Azores as a Region with good practices in disaster management.

However, there has been the concern to raise the awareness of population since 1997. A total of 68 environmental awareness raising actions have been promoted for the population in general, being attended by 1357 people. The actions focused on several areas, including First Aid and Civil Protection Basic Course.

"Nowadays, we have a strong have civil safety structure that we should continue to improve," said José Contente.


Official government press-releases presented in all foreign languages interfaces of the Azorean Government Portal (Portal do Governo dos Açores) are a sub-set of the government's official press-releases daily output and are chosen for translation and publication on the foreign language interfaces based on audience segmentation criteria. The entire collection of the Azorean government press-releases is available in portuguese, here, from the GACS Press Office site.

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