Ponent already knows what to do if there is a chemical accident
An exemplary exercise in civility. This is how we could define what happened yesterday in the neighborhoods of Ponent and in other points and municipalities of the Camp de Tarragona. The confinement drill due to a chemical accident was a success, both because of the follow-up and because of the test of the mobile phone alerts. The hypothesis was a chlorine leak in the southern polygon. And the truth is that it was found that the population knew what was happening and knew what their role was. Proof of this is that 112 only received fifty calls asking why the sirens were sounding. Yesterday was an important day for the neighborhoods of Ponent. They put into practice how to act if something similar to the fateful incident in Iqoxe happens again, last January 2020, where three people died.
Minutes before the sirens sounded, in Torreforta everything was ready for the big moment. The waiters were warning the customers – who were quietly having something on the terrace – that in a matter of minutes they should enter the bar. In the Civic Center of the neighborhood there was also a different atmosphere than usual. In the background, both in one place and another, you could hear Tarragona Radio. They wanted to be informed.
Yesterday was no longer an ordinary afternoon. Fewer people on the street and the occasional bar closed with the sign: "We open at seven." Despite this, in Plaça Pilar Pradells Sabaté –in front of the Center Cívic de Torreforta– there was a certain movement of mothers going to look for their children in the library or groups of young people playing.
At six-thirty sharp, the expected sirens sounded and life in Ponent came to a standstill. «Inside the Civic Center there are, right now, about seventy children. Apart from some who were outside and have entered when they heard the alarms. We have closed doors and windows and, through the public address system, we are explaining what is happening”, commented Georgina Martí, sociocultural animator of the Xarxa de Centers Cívics, who added that “an exercise like this is important to be prepared and be responsible” .
A few meters away, about twenty people took refuge inside the Nou Center bar in Torreforta. The owners of the establishment closed the door and lowered the blind. Five seconds after the sirens, those present received the alert on their mobile. "Oysters, they have sent me the notification in English," said one. After a few minutes, he would receive it again in Spanish and Catalan.
Activity on municipal buses also stopped. An EMT inspector entered one of the vehicles and explained to those present what was happening. Everyone knew it, although some unbeliever said: “What good will this do? The day something real happens, not even the alarms will sound.
During the fifteen minutes that the drill lasted, only four people were seen in the entire area of the Mercat de Torreforta. The first was Pedro, a retired Guàrdia Urbana agent who claimed to be controlling the area. The second person was Vasilca, the mother of a 7-year-old girl who was in the toy library. "I heard the sirens and I came quickly to look for her," Vasilca said nervously. Cristina and Àfrica –the third and the fourth– explained to her that this is precisely what she did not have to do. They were two of the fifty observers who were scattered throughout the territory. They valued that the follow-up had been a success.
Another drill next year
Throughout the drill, the Minister of the Interior of the Generalitat, Joan Ignasi Elena, was meeting in building 112 with the mayors of the affected municipalities. Elena then confirmed that all the planned sirens had sounded, 20 of the 45 in the territory, and that the mobile alert test had gone well. Both he and the rest of the authorities thanked the citizens for their participation in the test. "Today has been a sign of maturity and awareness," said the minister. Elena announced that next year another drill will be held, but this time in the north polygon.
For his part, the mayor of Tarragona, Pau Ricomà, said that “it has been shown that when citizens complain it is because they want change. And we're on our way." The rest of the mayors of the territory insisted on the importance of the "culture of prevention" so that an episode like that of Iqoxe does not repeat itself.
"If the sirens sound you have to confine yourself, they say it at school"
"If the sirens sound, you have to go home or somewhere closed and confine yourself," explains 6-year-old Oliver. They have told him at school and his grandmother has reminded him. She says that she has just picked him up from the dance academy and the alarms announcing the drill have caught them in the middle of the street, so they have decided to park and go to the supermarket, the closest place.
Oliver and his grandmother shared a space with customers who were surprised by the exercise at the Consum supermarket in La Canonja. An employee over the loudspeaker announced that it was a drill and explained that, in the event of a real emergency, confinement is the best self-protection measure. Before that, the sirens had already warned that the exercise was beginning and many mobile phones received the alert notice. In fact, those who wanted to immortalize the moment realized that the message is persistent and until it is read and 'accept' is given, the mobile cannot be used to take photos, videos or anything else.
Although at that time there was not much influx, most of those present were informed of the drill "by word of mouth", "by the press" and even others, like Sandra, had found out because the Civil Protection volunteers had gone out by car to remember him by the people.
Almost all of the customers stayed to wait for the drill to end, such as Miguel, Sergio and Otman, three teenagers who had gone to buy a snack. In fact, they also knew how to identify how the sirens that announced the end sounded. They claimed that they had already explained them in high school.
The perception, from the outset, is that the citizens of the municipality complied, although we must wait for the reports of the 14 Civil Protection observers who had posted in different areas, as explained by the councilor for citizen security Lucía López, who appreciated the effort that have done in recent days so that the neighbors were warned.
Although there were those like Antonia García, one of the clients, surrounded by journalists, they recognized that "I've gotten a little nervous... We come from where we come from."