An insight into some of the amazing work going on behind the scenes to protect us in Greece

>A 24-hour business center has been set up in the basement of the Fire Department in Chalandri, where 150 firefighters are analyzing data and communicating with thousands of travelers who arrived in Greece.

There is a basement in the premises of the Fire Brigade in Chalandri. A place that has been buzzing with life for a few weeks now. There a modern “headquarters” was set up against the colonist . In the “first line” are the 20-year-old students of the Fire Academy from all over Greece, who do not “tie up at home” but work feverishly at the Unified Coordination Center of Operations (ESKE) of the Fire Brigade.

They “manage” professionally, “silently” offering there services to fight the invisible enemy. They left their school early in Kifissia and they succeeded. Surrounded by screens and computers, they analyze data and communicate in six different languages ​​to thousands of travelers who arrived in Greece from abroad, limiting the spread of the pandemic. Ethnos (newspaper) presents the unknown “headquarters” against COVID-19, which implements a modern emergency management model that considers the citizen a part of the solution and a partner in the counter-confrontation of the critical situation.

When the pandemic broke out in your country, the Civil Protection was called upon to set up a business center in no time to counter the coup d’état that would reach the country from abroad. At the same time, the operational readiness of the Fire Brigade, which is in vanguard of the pandemic management, should not be burdened. Thus, the solution was to “recruit” 150 probationary firefighters from the second and third year of the Fire Academy, aged 20 to 24, who have excellent computer skills and know foreign languages. The probationers were trained by EOPSY scientists for the coronary artery and for the management of public health crises, as well as by executives of the Civil Protection for the organization and operation of a business center.

At the bases of “112”

In each shift there is a Chief of Staff of the Center for Civil Protection Operations from the Fire Brigade, the Police, the Coast Guard and the Armed Forces. The “headquarters” was set up on the technological reception of the “112” Emergency Communications Service. George Karagiannis, deputy general secretary for Civil Protection and general coordinator of the center, explains to “Ethnos tis Kyriakis” how a group of 20-year-old, probationary officers managed to start work in a short period of time. on March 20, when the relevant NOTAM came out for the 14-year quarantine of those who arrived in Greece. Your role was to inform passengers of specific flights that would arrive in your country from the most affected areas, such as Italy, England and Switzerland. In this phase, we contacted 4,000 travelers from 32 different flights. The telephone communication was in six languages: Greek, English, French, Spanish, Turkish and German. ”

The center’s staff told the travelers: “You are getting ready to travel, we need your help to stop the spread of the coronavirus. I need to ask you: Are you in good health? Do you have any symptoms, such as coughing, fever, difficulty breathing or a runny nose? A total of 12 travelers were identified before March 20 who said they had respiratory infections. The communication with them took place in two days before they traveled to Greece. Everyone was instructed to contact the EOPSY, the Public Health Authority of the country where they were located, but also the local consular authority (if they were Greeks).

Travelers who did not have any signs were given advice on how they should act as a precaution to protect themselves and those around them, upon arrival in your country. The role of the center is critical at that stage of the pandemic, as the 14-day quarantine measure was not yet in place for those arriving. Its executives were in a difficult situation, as there were likely to be carriers of the virus on these flights.

The second phase

After March 20, the second phase of the “headquarters” work began. The center began to receive from the Civil Aviation Authority all the passengers numbers of the travelers who arrived in Greece and had to go to a 14-day quarantine.

“Initially, the data is processed and then telephoto communication is shown to the arrivals. Their first goal is to inform them about the prevention measures they need to take and their second goal is to find out if quarantine is being applied. Keep your phones in your possession and call them. If someone does not pick up the phone, then call again in a second. For a variety of reasons, one may not be able to answer the phone. If, however, you see that someone never answers, then inform the Attica General Directorate of Police for further action. At the same time, ask the world if he is in good health and if he needs any help, “explains George Karagiannis, who has been working at the NSRF for seven weeks to monitor the progress of the inspections.

To date, the center has registered the data of about 13,000 passengers from 200 different flights. Calls have been made to 2,500 of them, of which about 90% (2,250 citizens) have responded. Among the passengers on the relevant lists are Greeks from abroad, who asked for their repatriation due to the extraordinary conditions. One problem that is observed is that in many cases the data of the travelers are either illegible or have not been properly paid. So it takes extra time for them to cross paths and move forward.

Protection measures

At the same time, the firefighters are taking strict protection measures, in order to expose themselves to the virus. They leave an empty seat between their offices to keep their safety distances, minimize their off-duty services and take care of their health. Initially, there was concern about the version that the colonist was being extradited by the air, but EOPSY officials assured the center’s officials that this was not the case and that keeping distance was enough to protect their health.

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