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Life-saving experiences

News 16 May, 2012

* Author: Berenice Rosales Navarro *

Knowing what to do and how to act in the event of an emergency can help us in many situations in life.  Accidents can happen at work or at home and it’s important to know how to react. That’s why I’d like to share my experience at Iberdrola.

In the department I work in, I have received training on how to rescue colleagues in the event of an earthquake, fire, evacuation from buildings and first-aid. I’m what we call a safety officer, and I’m responsible for ensuring that all Iberdrola employees evacuate the offices when something like this happens.

One essential point I’ve learned is to keep my cool so as to act quickly and calmly. This inspires trust in the injured person or in the group we are leading, which helps to ensure that the techniques and procedures that need to be followed are carried out properly and without delay.

It is important to highlight that prevention is always the best way to avoid limit or risk situations. It is fundamental to have a group of well-trained professionals and well-defined action and implementation plans at the facilities, in order to ensure the following: evacuation routes should be properly signposted, the signs for safe areas should be followed, people should know the emergency exits and they should always be kept clear of any obstacles, there should be a first-aid kit and people should know where fire extinguishers are located and how to operate them.

I work in the Iberdrola Mexico corporate building and in my experience as a safety officer, I’ve had to act on three occasions:  the first of these was on 4 November 2008. I remember the date very clearly because it was on that day that the then secretary of Governance, Juan Camilo Mouriño, died when his aircraft crashed onto a street near our headquarters in Mexico.

It was around 18:45 and I was still in the office when we suddenly felt the building shake and there was a power cut. At that time, I didn’t know what was going on and my initial reaction was to analyse the situation, rule out an earthquake and keep calm.

Then we immediately saw a huge explosion out the window.  I made sure that my colleagues were OK, we retreated into the safety area and proceeded to evacuate the building via the fire escape staircase.

The second time was three or four days after the air crash and the reason was a strong smell of gas on the street. The emergency corps, such as Civil Protection, Public Safety and the heroic fire-fighters from Mexico City were mobilised.

My work, and that of my fellow safety officers, was to keep all our colleagues calm and coordinate with the relevant authorities to evacuate the office. This was because of the risk of an explosion, which fortunately didn’t happen. The authorities explained that the emergency had started because of a leak of a chemical called mercaptan, which is used to give natural gas a smell and be able to differentiate when there is a leak.

The third occasion was when I had to give first-aid to a colleague that fainted following a decompensation episode. Luckily, within a few seconds of administering first-aid, my colleague regained consciousness.

These experiences have shown me the importance of this great work and reinforced my ability to react in the emergency situations that might arise. I hope this post helps to raise awareness of the importance of prevention and of reacting fast, because every second that goes by is a matter of life or death for someone that’s injured or in a hazardous situation.

Author: Berenice Rosales Navarro
Bio: Bio: I graduated with a Degree in Communication Sciences and joined Iberdrola in 2006 as a Human Resources analyst. I’ve been a safety officer ever since I joined the company, as I’ve always been interested in social work activities and, in any case, it’s always useful to know what to do in the event of an emergency.

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