Communication and calm, essential for the rescuer

Any job requires tranquility, but when you are 50 meters above the ground under the helicopter's propellers and with the only help of a harness, pending an emergency, communication and calm become essential for a rescuer.

Everything begins, as usual, with a call. As soon as the rescuer of 112 Cántabro picks up the phone, wherever he is, he has to go to the Seve Ballesteros-Santander airport, which houses the team's base of operations, which Efe has accompanied on one of his flights.

The time that elapses between the alert call and the arrival at the airport is "the worst moment", since that journey is not always easy due to a very variable traffic that is aggravated by the logical hurry of an emergency. However, since the telephone rings until they are in the air, it never takes more than 20 or 25 minutes and, once they have taken off, the informative session begins -briefing- to know the details of the rescue: place, conditions or the process to follow.

The team is always made up of two pilots, the one in charge of the crane - who also acts as a mechanic -, the doctor and the rescuer.

Beyond a good physical condition, the rescuer of the emergency service of Cantabria Manuel Díez explains to Efe that to practice that profession, far from what it may seem, it is necessary to be a calm person.

"We must be very calm because we face emergencies, in many cases, very unpleasant to see, with much risk for both the life of the person we rescued as well as ours and the team."

Another essential quality for their profession is the communication between the members of the team, which must be "very fluid" so that all the parties are interpenetrated and act "as a gear as perfect as possible."

Therefore, and to be prepared in any situation, the team of rescuers of the Cantabrian Government does at least a couple of weekly training, both in the mountains and at sea, either day or night, and even with impromptu tests such as simulation of failure in the helicopter engine.

Both training and real missions never spend more than 5 seconds without a word being heard in the helmets worn by all the members of the group to protect themselves from the thunderous noise made by the helicopter.

Everything is said and everything is subscribed, from the slogans of the pilots and their complicit talks to place the helicopter in the best possible way for the rescue, to the operations of the crane manager, whose message is replicated by the receiver to confirm the security and continuity of the maneuver over and over again.

Because of the idiosyncrasy of Cantabria, which is home to both the Picos de Europa and the Cantabrian Sea, Díaz explains that they are accustomed to rescue in high and medium mountains, in ravines, in rivers, on the coast and even on cliffs.

In addition, help services are provided in case of fires or, for example, animals are also being moved for safety reasons.

The number of performances is "very variable" depending on the week. "This summer I had three rescues in one day and in the next ten days none, that depends a bit on how Murphy comes," he jokes.

Of course, he sees in recklessness the common denominator of many of the rescues, which, for example, can respond to the search for the best 'selfie' possible at a peak.

Once rescued, if the person is unharmed, they can be left in a nearby area, but if they are injured it is up to the doctor what to do: whether to approach an ambulatory, to the airport where an ambulance can wait for them or, in case of extreme gravity , take it to the Cruces Hospital (Vizcaya), which has a heliport.

The doctor's job is to perform a first diagnosis and, if it is serious, keep the injured person with vital signs so that he can be treated on the ground.

The medical equipment of the helicopter is limited, for reasons of space, to a few backpacks full of objects, which, although it is a complete equipment for a first attention in the air, can not be compared to what is in a hospital.

Pablo G. Hermida


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