This is a drill. I repeat, This is a drill. Crash, boom, the house is moving. *&^%$, an earthquake!? A terrorist attack? Run? Hide? What do we do? Sirens wailed. We ran out of the house. Ambulances raced to the historic center. My emotions are off the chart. What the hell is going on?
Today, July 9, civil defense teams from all over Campania raced to Pontelandolfo to aid its residents. I repeat, This is a drill. Jack was an emergency management professional for over 40 years and was part of the teams that created drills. I would pop in and out of exercises simulating the media and harassing state and national spokespeople. When we heard there was going to be a simulation of a natural disaster, we had to witness it.
I put it in my calendar and when I woke up I shrieked – it was 9:30, we’re late! At about 8.30 am, Pontelandolfo was to be invaded by approximately 150 Civil Defense volunteers from various parts of the Campania Region. Twenty associations had given their commitment to participate in this unique event. When we got to the piazza at about 10:00 they were all gathering under a tree near the two way radio transmitter. Soon, everyone stood at attention for the national anthem. This signaled the beginning of the drill.
The purpose of the drill was to implement and test Pontelandolfo’s Municipal Civil Protection Plan. I wander if I ask nicely, if Jack and I can read it? According to my source for all things Pontelandolfo – the Pontelandolfo News –
By setting up such a document, the administration wanted to give a strong signal for the protection and security of citizens in the event that they experience natural disasters such as an earthquake. Pontelandolfo, nestled in the Apennines, has high seismic risk, knowledge and preparation to face this danger is critical.
Emergency vehicles from all over the region encircled Piazza Roma. My heart burst with pride as I remembered that just like all of those Flagtown Fire Trucks of my New Jersey youth, these trucks were driven by a dedicated group of volunteers. The same type of dedicated volunteers who, in recent years responded to horrific earthquakes and dug out the victims of the massive avalanches in northern Italy. These men and women are the backbone of our communities. We thank each and every one.
After a short briefing, an Emergency Operations Center was activated at the Municipal Building. We didn’t peak our nosey noses into the EOC but watched the volunteers mobilize for a variety of scenarios. The evacuation drills were staged in our medieval village center – which has historically been hit by earthquakes. The various teams evaluated the extent of damage caused by the faux seismic events. Other teams practiced rescuing the wounded. The Croce Rossa ambulances soared up the steep hill and returned with rescued wounded. A triage tent had been set up to evaluate and assist the wounded.
Vonuteers from Pontelandolfo’s Protezione Civile prepared lunch for all. It is great that all of these volunteers from various towns get to network. Those relationships will certainly be important if and when they need to assist each other.
I made a perky little video to salute the work of all of the volunteers – again – WE THANK YOU ALL!!!