The satisfaction of rescuing lives under rubble

LA LÍNEA VERTICAL technician David Aragón, known to everyone as Pitu, has returned from Turkey with the satisfaction of having rescued five people alive; but also with the sadness of not having been able to stay longer to help after the earthquake that has devastated a large area of this country and Syria, leaving thousands dead and injured.

He spent nine days in Turkey with a disaster response team from the NGO Bomberos Sin Fronteras (Firefighters Without Borders), made up of nine people and a dog, which brought from Spain “some 500 kilos of material to undertake any type of intervention”. The team also included his wife, who is a professional firefighter.

Pitu says that as soon as they arrived at Adana airport, military teams contacted them and flew them by helicopter to the town of Maras, where they had heard children’s voices under the rubble.

The first rescue they made was of a 12-year-old boy. Then they were able to pull out two more girls, an eight-year-old and a six-year-old, and two adult women. “We have been lucky enough to rescue five people alive. This is the biggest reward,” he says.

Our technician from LA LÍNEA VERTICAL has been with Firefighters Without Borders for 23 years. This is the eighth earthquake he has been involved in, so he knew what he was facing and, although he always hopes to rescue people alive, he was aware that they would not always be able to get there in time. Nevertheless, he acknowledges that it is not easy to deal with this situation.

For Pitu, the hardest part of his participation in Turkey was the last rescue, in which they worked for 36 hours non-stop, but arrived late. “We detected with the dogs that there were people under some rubble and the soldiers, with a thermographic camera, which detects body heat, told us that there were three people. They had been under the rubble for eight days and when we were very close to reaching them, when we put the camera in, the soldiers told us that they had died. So we had to stop to look for other lives because in that situation, every minute counts and the important thing is to find lives,” he says.

Another tough situation for this colleague of LA LÍNEA VERTICAL has been to see the pain of people who were rescued alive and left with deceased family members under the rubble.

He wants to highlight the warm welcome and the human warmth they have found in Turkey: “The way the people have treated us has been incredible, it’s the greatest thing I’ve seen. It’s the greatest thing I’ve ever seen, how they’ve treated us! They brought us clothes, food… we didn’t lack anything”. In the last rescues, they were accompanied by a Turkish television crew who broadcast live and became popular among the citizens, who, when they saw them in the street, greeted them.

He admits that he would have liked to stay more days to help, but he had to return because the Turkish government gave orders to finish the rescue work in order to start rebuilding the cities. He says he is ready for the next intervention, “although hopefully there will be no need for more”.

For almost five years Pitu has been part of the industrial rescue team of LA LÍNEA VERTICAL, which ensures safety, especially when there are industrial downtimes, and takes action in the event of an accident. He specialises in rope rescues and rescues in difficult access areas. In addition, he is a sports technician in caving and canyoning, an instructor at the Andalusian Mountain School and a heliport mountain rescue technician. He is very grateful to LA LÍNEA VERTICAL for supporting him and facilitating his participation in the rescue team of Firefighters Without Borders in the aftermath of the earthquake in Turkey.