Friday, September 27, 2013

To the rescue

The weather has turned a bit rough. Your boat is in a bad way. Engine gone. Adrift. Lost in a whirl of stinging spray, howling wind and an ever moving world. You're drenched, you're freezing and things don't look at all good until the Lifeboat crests the wave, plucks you out of the water and takes you home in a flurry of foil blankets and hot soup.

Ages ago, at a very boring party, a fireman told me about his new issue soft soled boots. He loved them. He loved them because they made it less likely that he would die in a ball of flame as he paddled through spilled petrol at the scene of a road traffic accident. Effectively the soft soles closed around any loose pebbles that the fireman trod on and so, more or less, eliminated the chance of sparks. I can tell you now that if I were hanging upside down in the mangled wreck of a car breathing in petrol fumes I'd be pretty pleased to see that chap and his non sparking boots coming to get me out.

This romantic idea of heroic police officers, fire-fighters and medics always crosses my mind as I pull aside to let their vehicles struggle through traffic. I know that most of it is mundane and that fire-fighters spend the majority of their time pumping out flood water or pulling cows from slurry lagoons whilst most ambulances are glorified taxis. But not always.

Imagine that you're at home. Years of a little too much brandy and fatty foods conspire to grip your heart with the steel fist of a heart attack. Maybe the gas cylinder turns into a fireball that demolishes half the house and leaves shards of sharpened steel sticking out of the wall, your Sky box and your left leg. Lots of us live in the middle of nowhere up some bumpy track. The Marks and Spencer or Amazon delivery people can't find us even in the clear light of day. Now imagine how hard it's going to be to give the 112 operator sufficient information, in Spanish, to get the ambulance or Guardia Civil to your door in the teeth of a howling gale in the dead of night maybe with blood running into your sock.

I like simple and elegant solutions. A little while ago I was impressed to find that the local police in Pinoso were creating a register so that in an emergency they could find the right house whatever the weather conditions and time of day. All we had to do was to complete a simple form produced by the police. They then sent someone around to check the GPS co-ordinates of our house. We now have a little card with a reference number on it. In case of emergency we have only to dial one of the emergency numbers – also given on the card – and, with a bit of luck after that we just wait for them to come and rescue us.

I know, for a fact, that a similar scheme exists in Ontinyent where registration is initially through the Town Hall. They check that you are on the padrón and up to date with the various municipal taxes and then send you to the local police who take over the process. The card is different but the end result is the same.

I asked on a couple of the expat forums if similar systems existed in other towns. I'm told that it's a widespread phenomena but nobody came back with information about other schemes. Nonetheless it may be worth while asking.

 It could, literally, be a lifesaver.

No comments:

Post a Comment