Italian Civil Protection at Vatican for the hearing with Pope Francis

December 22, 2018

"Italian Civil Protection doesn't stop to remind us that the territory's safety is not important only during big emergencies but especially in the phase of prevision and prevention from risks", His Holiness said. 


Borrelli e Papa Francesco «Our prayer and our thoughts go to those who have lost their lives due to disasters, both to the victims and to the rescuers who are committed to saving as many lives as possible. The Italian Civil Protection never ceases to remind us that the preservation of the territory in which we live is not only important during major emergencies, but especially in the phases of prediction and prevention and afterwards, when we need to return to normal conditions. So, the most important mission of civil protection is, perhaps, an educational one to make sure that every citizen is trained to behave in ways that reduce risks. Moreover, civil protection is organized according to the principle of subsidiarity, and this is a crucial factor: to get around a table for the common good and without selfishness with the objective of safeguarding human lives and the environment ». These are just a few of the words with which Pope Francis has welcomed the National Service of Civil Protection, during the special audience ended around 12.30.

A moment of meeting, of testimony, of pride. It was all this embrace between the National Service of Civil Protection and Pope Francis. In the auditorium Paolo VI, the colored world of the different uniforms of operators of the components and of the operative structures, with over six thousand volunteers of the national system engaged in major emergencies as well as in daily work, always at the side of the population, gathered to greet the Pontiff. A hug that should have been held in 2016 but, unfortunately, was postponed due to the works started on 24 August 2016, just minutes after the earthquake that hit central Italy.

The Head of the Department Angelo Borrelli greeted the Pope in the name of the whole system with heartfelt words: "Thank you for welcoming us, we have all been waiting for today's occasion. I present you the National Service of civil protection that in our country has the task of defending lives, environment and the territory "- said Borrelli.

"We believe that what we have been able to do up until now is no longer sufficient", added the Head of the Department. "Without forgetting the criteria of effectiveness, efficiency and above all the timeliness of emergency interventions, we must give more space to the idea that the future cannot be played between the indifference of individual behavior and the delegation to the institutions. At all levels, from the local to the international organizations we are part of, we must commit ourselves to participate, with realistic and concrete proposals, to the process - which is now essential - to achieve inclusive and eco-sustainable forms of development ".

Borrelli then concluded with a special gift: "as a sign of gratitude, as a concrete testimony in favor of disadvantaged populations, in which the Church has always shown the greatest sensitivity, the system of civil protection has the pleasure of presenting you with a gift of a mobile medical unit that can be used where you think it best ».

The meeting with Pope Francis, lived with great enthusiasm by all those present, was preceded by a moment of listening and sharing the activities put in place by the national system of civil protection led by Valentina Bisti, journalist of the TG1 of RAI.

In particular, some testimonies of representatives of the civil protection system took place on the stage of the auditorium Paolo VI. Volunteers of large organizations involved in the territories hit by major emergencies such as the earthquakes that hit central Italy in 2016, 118 doctors uninterruptedly working to help the population hit by the earthquake since the night of August 24 in Amatrice and Accumoli, operators of the forces armed forces such as the Army who have collaborated in the search operations of the survivors and the land security, Red Cross operators, in particular engaged around the hotel Rigopiano hit by a landslide after the earthquake of January 2017, Firefighters , overwhelmed by the applause moved that on the morning of August 14, without stopping for days, they dug under the rubble of the Morandi bridge in Genoa, collapsed causing injured and displaced victims, policemen, Carabinieri, Navy and Harbor Captains, Guard financiers of Finance, aviation aircrafts protagonists of rescues provident from Ancona to Genoa, from Livorno to Sicily and Sardinia, in moments of great emergency risking their lives to save those in difficulty, mountain rescue operators involved in the emergency that struck the gorges of the Raganello in Pollino in Calabria.
The Fire Fighters brought their touching experience: together with the pilots of the National Air fleet, they took part to the fire extinguishing operations of last summer.

To close the theory of testimonies the intervention of two researchers from INGV and from CIMA Foundation, centers of competence of the Civil Protection Department at work every day to study thoroughly, with the most advanced technological tools, risks affecting the Italian territory, from earthquakes to floods.

The testimonies were then interspersed with two videos produced by the Department of Civil Protection, the first told the establishment and development of the system since its launch in 1982, with all the major emergencies that have involved all women and men of the Civil Protection. Another video introduced a new alert system: "IT-alert", designed and implemented to ensure the sending and receiving of messages on mobile phones and smartphones, a decisive tool for the prevention and response to various emergencies.

The meeting ended with an embrace from Pope Francis to the numerous representatives of the National Service, along the entire auditorium Paolo VI.

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