BALEARIC emergency services have carried out 41 mountain rescues this year, operations in which only one person has lost their life.
The regional Interior minister confirmed the figures yesterday and went on to report on the setting up of a pilot scheme which aims to make the Torrent de Pareis in Escorca, a safer place. Joan Pol, Emergencies director, commented that this is the mountain area of the Islands, where the greatest number, of rescues have been carried out, around 80 percent of the total. The Balearic government has invested 18'000 euros in the scheme which will be the first phase of a wider programme of accident prevention to be developed throughout 2004. Mountain rescue statistics in 2003 reflect a drop compared to the 70 cases that were recorded in 2002 and the 68 in 2001. The downturn, it is believed, is due to climatic reasons and the increase of warnings given to the public on risk situations, explained Pol. The Minister, José María Rodríguez, added that in the six months that the new regional government has been in power, a new method of working has been established which places special emphasis on preventative measures. Pol said the Balearic government will launch an information campaign on the risks that are entailed in making excursions into the mountain regions of the Balearics. He pointed out that the services of the Guardia Civil and Majorcan firemen, which are at the disposal of the rescue teams, are sufficient to give a rapid response to any reported incident, and as such, getting to the root of the problem means raising awareness amongst members of the public and encouraging trekkers to take essential precautions. Ignorance of the dangers of mountain areas, Pol added, is not just a failing of foreign visitors and illustrated the point with the fact that the only person who died this year as a result of a mountain excursion that went tragically wrong was a resident of Bunyola, who died as a result of dehydration. Rodríguez highlighted the importance of convincing those who decide to go on such excursions that they should bear in mind not just their own safety but that of those who may have to come out to rescue them. Apart from the human cost, he detailed that each rescue operation means costs in the region of 33'000 euros which has to be found from public funds.
An information board will be put up at the entrance to the Torrent de Pareis which will make daily evaluations of the level of risk for trekkers according to climatic conditions, somewhat similar to that employed on beaches.
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