The increase of older people who are living alone has been reflected in recent years by an upsurge in the number of rescues and forced entry’s that firefighters are having to make into properties and homes due to people falling, people who are immobilised and all too frequently, even dead people.
They are usually called to such properties by friends and neighbours, who perhaps haven’t seen the occupant for several days.
This was stated by the head of the Elche Fire Station, Alberto Martín, who said that although the increase has not been significant when compared to the previous year, the number of such call outs does show a rising trend that has been gradually increasing for the last decade.
In 2019 the Elche Park, including the sub-park of Crevillente, made more than 1,800 such responses, the largest number of the entire Consortium in the Province of Alicante. These constituted between 70 and 80% of all the calls attended to in the city centre, said Martín.
One other significant increase was in the number of animal-related rescues, due to the awareness of society with pet care.
Alberto Martín describes 2019 as a year that was unusual at it’s activity level, particularly in view of the September DANA that triggered so much activity, “many of them not accounted for as we were out for long periods just moving from one place to another.
“There were also two unusual industrial fires, one in a factory in Crevillente and another in an illegal clothing store close to the Airport, which saw us working for about a week in each case to extinguish them,” he adds.
He said that fires from industrial activities represent about 8% of the total, while those related to the extinction of agricultural and forest fires are around 30%, as in previous years. What has decreased slightly are the number of actions related to traffic accidents, following the general trend at the state level, where serious accidents have been reduced.
Elche call outs amount to an average of more than six responses a day, which are attended by twenty firefighters on each of the five shifts that operate at the Elche and Crevillente facilities.
There were more than 250 hours of rescues involving helicopter flight and firefighters recorded 170 cases of incidents located in hard-to-reach areas due, above all, to the rise in mountain sports
“Prevention is the best form of care” for any incident, says Martin, so he urges precautions when entering into this type of activity but above all Martín says that the number of casualties that have victims in their own homes could be reduced by half if a smoke detector were, which would serve to warn in case of accidental fire due to a short circuit, electrical problems or, very common in the winter, failures in the ventilation system.
“A smoke detector costs only a few euros but it can be a great lifesaver,” he says.