Emergencies across the Algarve region

As part of the preparations for the Euro 2004 football tournament, a simulated exercise involving nearly 600 police officers was staged at the Algarve Stadium recently. Over 330 GNR and PSP policemen were called in to calm 250 rowdy ‘hooligans’ after a ‘fight’ broke out in the stadium. The exercise did not go off without a hitch – the coach transporting the fake ‘hooligans’ to the stadium from PSP and GNR training schools suffered a flat tyre, resulting in a considerable delay. The police were finally able to launch their ‘onslaught’ on the fans an hour later, causing 15 ‘injuries’, five of them ‘serious’, resulting in four ‘arrests’.

“Not every exercise is perfect; in fact, that is why we have these simulations,” the assistant to the Minister of Internal Administration, Nuno Magalhães, said. But, he went on to say that he was impressed by the whole operation, saying: “I’m very content to see the PSP and GNR working together. This proves that they will work together during the football tournament.”

He added that that the Algarve region will receive “special police attention” over the summer and, for that reason, 300 extra police officers will be stationed in the region within the next few months.

‘Bomb scare’ in Modelo

In a separate incident, shoppers and sales assistants were evacuated from the Modelo commercial centre in Portimão last Wednesday, as part of a dramatic ‘bomb’ alert reconstruction. According to Jaime Marques, head of the Municipal Civil Protection Service (SMPC), the fake scenario involved a bomb that had exploded and caused a huge fire in the building and another bomb that hadn’t yet exploded. The authorities wasted no time in evacuating the building, locating the source of the invented bomb, putting out the fire and attending to the 1,400 evacuated people, including 150 children and fake casualties.

The exercise included officers from the PSP, who deactivated the second bomb, the Portimão bombeiros and other medical services, stationed in the centre’s car park.

After the simulated emergency was complete, Marques revealed that there were some minor faults in the centre’s evacuation technique that needed to be addressed. “It went smoothly and there were no major problems,” he explained, adding: “However, it is important to run these exercises regularly in case, one day, the emergency situation becomes a reality.” Apparently, the only major problem that Marques noted during the evacuation was at the meeting point. “The meeting point wasn’t the safest place for casualties to be evacuated to, but that is something that can be resolved,” he said.