The “biggest change” in the Civil Protection system in recent years will occur on January 1, when the 18 District Operational Rescue Teams (OROS) will be abolished and replaced by 23 sub-regional teams.
“This is a profound change in which we no longer have a country divided and organized according to the logic of districts as far as civil protection is concerned, and we now have a new territorial layer. The core of the system is still at the municipal level, where municipalities play an absolutely fundamental role in this area of civil protection. Now we create a layer interurban communitieswhere we no longer have 18 district commands, and now we have 23 sub-regional commands,” Secretary of State for Civil Protection Patricia Gaspard told Lusa.
The termination of 18 CSCs and the creation of 23 sub-regional emergency and civil protection commands were provided for by the organic law on the National Emergency and Civil Protection Administration (ANEPC), which came into force in April 2019. the sub-regional structure will be introduced in stages, with North, Center, Lisbon and Tagus Valley, Alentejo and Algarve regional teamsand 23 sub-regional departments for emergency situations and civil protection, whose territorial coverage corresponds to the territory of each inter-municipal community, begin their functions on January 1.
Patricia Gaspar stressed that this new way of working or this “new skeleton” of Civil Protection will allow system “closer to territories and people”as well as municipalities.
The official explained that what is being done today in CDOS will be “exactly the same as what will be done in the new sub-regional commands.”
“Gain in scale approach to the territory. The new teams will have exactly the same functions, especially with regard to the operational issue,” he said, giving an example of the functions and daily work of fire departments that “will not feel the change” because they will continue to have the current scope and perform the same functions.
According to Patricia Gaspard, neighborhood and proximity relationships will be maintained with partner organizations and even with other fire departments.
“The only difference is that when they call on the radio, they call not the district command, but the sub-regional one, because, in fact, the task remains the same. Here we have acquired a new layer, closer to the city hallfire brigades, but also, above all, the population,” he said, stressing that this change will occur “without interruptions and without restrictions”, especially at the operational level, taking into account that ANEPC has carried out preparatory work.
The Secretary of State also considered that it was not a problem for Civil Protection to stop working at the district level, recalling that INEM and the regional health departments no longer have a district organization.
Patricia Gaspard also said that she was “quite convinced” that there will be no problems with this new adaptationa change that will occur “at a certain time” between December 31 and January 1, when the district system is turned off and the sub-regional is turned on.
However, he acknowledged that despite the “changing continuity”, there would be “some differences”, namely in municipalities whose inter-municipal communities cover different areas, in addition to “a number of adjustments made”.
“We will have some differences in places where the new sub-regional teams do not overlap with the district teams, but in most cases, even in terms of infrastructure, we managed to find a solution in continuity, with the exception of six cases where it was necessary build new infrastructure and adapt some infrastructure to this new reality. I would say that in half a year everything is in perfect order and without problems, ”he said.
According to the governor, communication systems have been adjustedin the organization of radio communication systems, in the organization of information flows, in the decision support system used by ANEPC, which currently has a regional configuration and will now have a sub-regional configuration.
The Secretary of State also said that the population will not notice this change, while aid will continue to be provided “in exactly the same way.”
“A person who needs help because the house is on fire should continue to do exactly the same procedure and call 112 to deal with the emergency, and most likely the firefighters who will come home to resolve this emergency situation will be exactly the same as December 29 or January 3. Because it does not interfere with the coverage area of fire departments,” he said.