02-11-2018

A week before the Sant Llorenç floods, the public administration minister Catalina Cladera received an internal report from the emergencies directorate that highlighted "serious and unacceptable" deficiencies. It drew attention to an "obvious lack" of human resources, meaning that it was not possible to guarantee that all needs essential to safety could be met.

Cladera has acknowledged receiving the report but says that the problems it identified had nothing to do with the Sant Llorenç tragedy. "It was an extraordinary phenomenon which exceeded all forecasts." The floods would have happened in any event, and she insists that incidents were attended to by 200 personnel who rescued 340 people. "What took place would have done with double the number of personnel."

The report refers to "systematic non-compliance" with public administration obligations, the inefficiency of the system due to a "lack of political will" and "serious inaction" on behalf of the organisation that holds responsibility. It goes on to detail deficiencies and to identify the absence of an effective mechanism for organising response in the case of an emergency. This is because there is no response system for major emergencies, just a series of localised guards based on the level of risk.

The suggestion in the report is that there is not a means for major emergency response because of an "excessive cost". The report points out that exceptional situations cannot be predicted and so it is therefore necessary to have personnel available at any moment.

The 112 emergency service, it is said, is at risk. Staff work with antiquated systems. There is a shortage of personnel. In fact, the staffing level at the emergency centre is at an "historic low". On the day of the floods, there were five operators when there should have been eight. Some 1,000 calls were missed, and decisions could not be taken for some three-quarters of an hour because there was no analyst.

Cladera explains that the government has spent several months in working on improvements. There have been staffing problems because of the "rigidity" of the hiring system. She adds that there have been various meetings with heads of emergency services about improvements. One of these heads was the author of the report.