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When Natural Disaster Strikes: Protecting Emergency Workers and Communities During the La Palma Volcano Eruption

Safety monitoring, gas detection, donated meals and more support response

On Sept. 19th, the Crumbre Vieja volcano on the island of La Palma in Spain’s Canary Islands erupted, with devastating consequences. The eruption forced the evacuation of 7,000 people (close to 10% of the island’s population), destroyed almost 2,000 buildings and spread over 1,800 acres.

Blackline equipment on the scene monitoring air quality

Rapid response during a natural disaster

G7 personal gas protection devices were deployed with the Dirección General de Seguridad y Emergencias (Canary Islands Civil Defense) and UME (Military Emergency Unit) to ensure frontline worker safety. Through Sensotran, Blackline’s distribution partner in Spain, G7s were used by emergency responders to monitor for the presence of carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide and other toxic or flammable gases typical of volcanic eruptions.

“When the UME needed devices quickly to protect the personnel analysing gases coming from the lava, we knew we had the products to help,” said Marc Delgado, Head of International Sales, Sensotran.

“The high level of automation of the G7s, combined with their location tracking, ability to detect falls and ability to transmit voice and push-to-talk (PTT) calls (which we are providing free of charge) make them ideal to support the response at La Palma.”

Perimeter monitoring to protect communities

WhatsApp Image 2021-11-09 at 08-46-10 (2)-jpeg-1The military also set up a G7 EXO portable area monitor in the surrounding area to enhance the protection of communities. Configurable to detect up to five gases, including VOCs with a PID sensor, G7 EXO provided continuous monitoring of the area, notifying live monitoring personnel of any gas hazard levels that arose due to volcanic activity, changing wind patterns and more.

“We’re proud to be able to support the vital work of emergency response personnel on La Palma, minimizing collateral damage caused by the eruption and its aftermath through real-time air quality monitoring to better protect responders and residents,” said Gavin Boorman, Managing Director, Blackline Safety Europe.

“Blackline Safety G7 wearables and G7 EXOs detect up to five different gases simultaneously and send real-time data to the cloud, providing immediate information to ensure a fast and effective response.”

The data can be easily leveraged for greater in-depth analysis and reporting.

Feeding the response

The Canary Islands Volcanology Institute reported in September that the aftermath of the eruption could last for many weeks or months, meaning residents and rescue workers could be at risk of continued earthquakes, lava flows, toxic gases, volcanic ash and acid rain well past the initial disaster.

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Blackline Safety donated €2,000 to World Central Kitchen (WCK), a US-based non-profit founded by Spanish-born chef José Andrés, to further support the response during this extended period. WCK served meals to first responders and displaced populations at La Palma when they needed it most. WCK uses the power of food to nourish communities and strengthen economies through times of crisis and beyond. Learn more about WCK’s mission here. 

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