As the stroke of midnight chimed across Spain, another year dawned as 2016 was welcomed, but for the residents of the Elche municipality it heralded a new era of safety and security.
From the 1st of January, Elche is covered by a new emergency medical and ambulance service which has been provided by the municipality to combat the massive cuts implemented by both the central and regional governments of Spain.
The councillor for Emergency Services, Cristina Martínez, presented the service this week, which is intended to improve the quality of care to the people of Elche. With much of the municipality left without medical attention, made worse in the summer months as one of the two ambulances based in the city is relocated to the coast, Martínez explained that the local government is “aware that the health gaps in emergency care will not be covered immediately by the Generalitat Valenciana, who are responsible for that matter, and so the city of Elche has chosen to try to alleviate this deficiency, within our means, and by working hard”, although “we will continue to demand emphatically that the Department of Health provide Elche with more paramedic and basic life support ambulances that were taken away by the cuts”.
This new service will be fully professionalised, with highly trained staff working in the ambulance and the daily care service. The new Elche Emergency Service will be composed of a basic life support ambulance, which will be operational 24 hours a day and will be attended by two Emergency Medical Technicians who are professionally devoted to that task. The base of the ambulance will be located in the Sports City, which also will have a sanitary seal that will be manned by a graduate nurse and whose schedule will be Monday through Friday afternoons, Saturdays both morning and afternoon, and Sunday mornings.
The ambulance will be labelled with the logo of the City of Elche and the two Emergency Medical Technicians will also have uniforms displaying the city crest.
In addition to the provision of this new ambulance service, which will be controlled through the usual 112 Emergency Coordination Centre, the local police are also being trained in first aid and will see their patrol cars fitted with first aid kits and defibrillators.
Martínez stressed at a press conference that it is common for officers of the local police to be first to reach the place where the incident occurred, and so, with the appropriate training, they may carry out immediate first aid treatment until the arrival of emergency medics.
Specifically eight Local Police patrols will have these defibrillators, four for the city and the same number for the districts, thus increasing “the chances of saving lives”, according to the councillor.
Last summer five defibrillators were installed in the beaches of Elche and life guards were trained in their use.