Distress call

Fast but fearless: these are essential requisites for an efficient distress call in the mountains.

The CNSAS needs to receive precise information in order to fulfill a focused and fast intervention.

The unique number, which covers the whole national territory, to be called for a health emergency is:

118ES

In case of accident in mountains or in caves, it’s suggested to request to the 118 operator the CNSAS’s intervention.

Some regional services also offer a cell phone account to contact the CNSAS.

If active, use the number: 

112

Unique European Emergency Number

How to make a distress call

In case of necessity, the distress call needs to be made through the unique health emergency number 118 or through specific rescue numbers (see the list below, divided into regions) clearly expressing the following information:

  • 1. Where you are calling from (specifying to the operator whether you’re in mountains or in caves).
  • 2. The phone number you’re using; the telephone has never to be abandoned (in case the phone call should be interrupted, it’s important to keep the telephone free in order to allow the operating center to call you back).
  • 3. The exact location where the area you’re calling from is positioned (Comune, Provincia or surely any important research reference point easy to be found on a map).
  • 4. Your position if you own an altimeter (properly calibrated) or GPS;
  • 5. Information related to what is visible from above (slope, forest, mountaintop, lodge, etc.).
  • 6. What it happened;
  • 7. When it happened;
  • 8. How many people were involved in the accident.
  • 9. Your identity (fundamental).
  • 10. The evident conditions of the involved person/people: difficulty breathing, consciousness, bleeding, visible injuries, etc;
  • 11. The exact position of the injured person (sitting, lying supine, lying prone, hanging, etc).

It is strictly necessary to answer in a complete way the questions of the operator who starts the rescue intervention and gathers the information fundamental to the optimization of the intervention itself.

CONSIDERING THAT THE INTERVENTION IN THE MOUNTAINS CAN BE EXECUTED WITH OR WITHOUT THE HELP OF AN HELICOPTER, IT’S NECESSARY TO INFORM THE OPERATOR ABOUT:

  • Traveling time on foot from the vehicle to the event place;
  • Weather conditions at the site of the event;
  • Terrain conditions;
  • Wind conditions;
  • Visibility at the site of the event;
  • Presence at the site of the event of cantilever threads, funicular railways, power lines etc.

Everyone tapping a distress call is obliged to immediately warn the CNSAS operating center.

Helicopter intervention

The rescue intervention is carried out through the use of an helicopter, when weather and environmental conditions allow for it and when the seriousness of the injured person justifies it.

The arrival of the helicopter on the site of the event arises behavioral and communication problems that must be known by those assisting the injured person. As a rule, the possibility to talk via radio with the flight crew is reserved to specialized technicians. It is therefore particularly useful to adopt simple conventional and international visual signals, which allow for essential communications. Only one person takes the function of a communicator, and stands with his/her back to the wind and stays still during the helicopter approach.

When the pilot is about to land, the person who reported the accident crouches on the ground and doesn’t move. Everyone else moves away from the rescue site.

The helicopter intervention in the mountains takes place under conditions always considered highly critical, therefore everyone should know some simple behavioral rules to facilitate, or at least to not hinder, rescue operations.

If the terrain allows for it, the helicopter will perform a landing: this operation can only take place in areas away from aerial ropeways, power lines, plants and other obstacles. The landing area must also be clearly identifiable from above. In this case, people present at the event place must:

  • clear the site from backpacks, garments and anything that could fly away;
  • move away from the landing place by putting themselves in a safe position
  • lead children by the hand and dogs on a leash;
  • stay still without leaving and neither get close to the helicopter during and after the operation;
  • never approach the helicopter from the back;

Despite the above indications given, it will be the pilot’s task to decide both the landing place and the operation to be carried out.

When the terrain does not allow for the landing, the pilot can decide to approach the site of the accident by adopting a stationary flight maneuver (Hovering); the helicopter stays still not far from the ground, sometimes it leans only on one runner. The operation is particularly delicate and demanding for the pilot who must keep the helicopter in a precarious balance; the landing of the rescuers and the embarkation of the injured people must be done with the utmost delicacy and in perfect harmony under the flight personnel’s authorization. No one and for any reason must approach the helicopter especially in the back area and in the upper part of the slope, where the blades can turn at a very short distance from the ground.

The winch is used on a vertical terrain or in situations where it is not possible to adopt landing or hovering. The mountain rescue technician is climbed down from the helicopter placed with a stationary flight on the vertical of the accident site; the technician, after having evaluated the situation, will be joined with the same modality by the health team. Even in this case, no one should approach the area where the helicopter operates; it will be the mountain rescue technician to ask if and how to collaborate for the rescue operations.

SIGNALS WITH THE HELICOPTER
YES, we need help: land here
NO, we don’t need help: do not land here

INTERNATIONAL SIGNALS
Almost all the distress calls nowadays arrive through mobile phones, but often you can be located in blind spots; in this case it is good to know what are the international distress signals:

CALLlaunch six times in one minute (every ten seconds) an optical or acoustic signal (scream, light with flashlight, etc.) Repeat the signals after one minute.

ANSWER: launch an optical or acoustic signal three times in one minute (every twenty seconds).

Phone numbers

PHONE NUMBERS – ITALY

ABRUZZO 118
ALTO ADIGE 118
BASILICATA 118 – 3491860842 – 3493008773
CALABRIA 118 – 339 6197005
CAMPANIA 118 – 331 4597777
EMILIA ROMAGNA 118
FRIULI VENEZIA GIULIA 118
LAZIO 118 – 348 6131300
LIGURIA 118
LOMBARDIA 118
MARCHE 118
MOLISE 118
PIEMONTE 118
PUGLIA 118
SARDEGNA 118
SICILIA 334 9510149
TOSCANA 118
TRENTINO 118
UMBRIA 118
VALLE D’AOSTA 118 – 0165.238222
VENETO 118

PHONE NUMBERS – ABROAD

Austria 140 – 144- 112
Bulgaria 112
France 15 – 112
Germany 112
England, Wales, Scotland 999 – 112
Norway 112 – 113
Poland 112 – 601100300
Slovenia 112
Spain 112 – 062
Switzerland 112 – 1414