Seoul Metropolitan Government established the “Winter Emergency Rescue Measures” as a means of preparing for possible disasters with the aim of protecting vulnerable people from natural disasters in winter, such as cold waves, heavy snowfalls, as well various winter-related accidents. These measures will remain in force until February next year.
On December 1 (Tues), the Seoul Metropolitan Fire and Disaster Headquarters announced that they will help disaster-vulnerable groups enjoy a safe winter by conducting six specific tasks: ▴ operation of the “Seoul Emergency Rescue Control Service” to ensure rapid responses to winter-related disasters; ▴ operation of the “24 Hour Emergency Situation System,” tasked with receiving disaster reports and offering medical consultations; ▴ expansion of safety measures and welfare services for cold-wave damage and disaster-vulnerable groups; ▴ operation of a multi-tier emergency rescue dispatch system to help ensure citizens’ safety; ▴ preemptive elimination of risk factors, such as icicles and ice on the roads, and; ▴ rapid response and rescue operations in preparation for winter mountain climbing accidents.
As a means of addressing the risk of cold waves, heavy snowfalls, strong winds, and blackouts in the winter, the Seoul Metropolitan Fire and Disaster Headquarters will operate a “situation management service” that will respond to changes in the status of the special weather report (issues specific advisory and warning levels). In case of emergency (special weather report levels 1, 2, and 3), the “emergency rescue control service” will be mobilized at potential crisis sites. Moreover, a 24-hour emergency situation system for receiving disaster reports and providing medical consultations will also be operated.
Seoul Metropolitan Government will also take steps to protect various vulnerable groups, such as elderly people with severe disabilities living alone, the homeless, and residents of tenement housing, in order to help them enjoy a warm winter uninterrupted by crises.
When the special weather report issues cold spell warnings, members of the 119 Safety Squad (116 squads) and volunteer firefighters (1,326 firefighters) will personally pay visits to 663 elderly people with severe disabilities who are living alone and 91 disabled people residing in independent living housing (55 households) at least once a day until the cold spell warning is lifted.
The city will also operate the “multi-tier emergency rescue dispatch system” so as to ensure prompt responses to accidents that may occur during blackouts, such elevator malfunctions, water supply issues, gas supply problems, and blocked emergency drainage systems.
Moreover, in preparation for the increased number of falls on icy roads, the “multiple emergency patient transfer system” will be in operation. Normally, Seoul’s patient transfer system comprises 149 ambulances. However, during times of emergency weather warnings, 116 fire engines and 22 patrol cars will be deployed to assist in the transfer of injured citizens. Furthermore, the city government has already finished stocking up on emergency medical equipment, such as splints and bandages.
In the event of cold wave or heavy snowfall advisories or warnings, Seoul’s 119 Special Rescue Service and 119 rescue teams from 23 fire stations in Seoul will mobilize in an effort to eliminate risk factors, such as icicles and ice on the roads.
In addition, 23 fire stations will be designated to manage 145 areas (total of 77.6 km) that are known to be vulnerable to damage from heavy snowfall and remove snow from the roads. Volunteer firefighters at each fire station will be in charge of removing snow from the entrances of the subway stations within their respective jurisdictions.
Also, three mountain rescue squads of Seoul’s 119 Special Rescue Service will prepare for accidents and emergency situations, such as trapped climbers, injuries from falling, and disappearances of hikers, in the major mountain parks of Seoul.
First, in hopes of preventing accidents, the Seoul 119 Special Rescue Service plans to work with the Korea National Park Service at Bukhansan Mountain to conduct a campaign promoting safe mountain climbing and offer first aid training courses. In addition, posters and banners warning climbers about the risk of falling on icy mountain paths will be posted at the entrances to major mountain parks. Moreover, inspections of dangerous areas in the mountains will be carried out in preparation for emergency rescue operations involving mountain climbers trapped by or lost in heavy snowfalls.
Finally, the Seoul 119 Special Rescue Service will begin training to execute mountain ice wall rescue operations so as to promptly respond to accidents occurring in extreme weather conditions, such as heavy snowfalls and freezing rain. If an accident does occur, the special rescue service will respond promptly, investigate the site, and rescue the victims by mobilizing air search and rescue resources as well as rescue dogs and drones.