300 Spanish Red Cross volunteers respond to air crash in Madrid airport

Published: 21 August 2008 0:00 CET

Some 300 Spanish Red Cross volunteers were immediately sent in to respond to the crash of a Spanair flight, bound for the Canary Islands, at midday on 20 August at Barajas airport in Madrid. According to the latest toll, 153 people are dead and 19 are injured, many of them are in critical condition.

Working in cooperation with the government national emergency response system, volunteers were working on search and rescue and transporting victims to nearby hospitals and evacuating bodies.

Spanish Red Cross also sent 22 ambulances from Madrid and neighbouring provinces to assist the injured and transfer the injured to nearby hospitals.

In order to provide psychological support to families of the victims, 17 specialised National Emergency Response Teams (Equipos de Respuesta Inmediata en Emergencias – ERIEs) have been activated. Two of them are currently in Barajas. Each of these teams includes one psychologist and three assistants.

Psychological support teams have also been deployed in the hospitals where the victims are been treated and in the morgue. Another team was set up in the Las Palmas de Gran Canaria airport to support victims’ relatives who were flown to Madrid last night from the Canary Islands.  In addition, a Spanish Red Cross medical team, comprised of a doctor, a nurse and four psychologists, was aboard the flight bringing the families to Madrid.

“Our main role now and for the coming days is to accompany the families of victims to help them overcome the shock and trauma of this tragedy,” explains Eva Calvo, Director of Communications for the Spanish Red Cross.

Additional emergency response teams, including one for shelter and two specialised in telecommunications, have also been deployed to Barajas and 21 other first aid posts are on alert should they be needed.