Scouts support Portugal forest fire relief efforts
On 17 June, a series of deadly wildfires erupted across central Portugal, killing or injuring over 100 people. More than 1,700 firefighters nationwide were dispatched to put out the blazes. Scouts, who are often among the very first to respond in emergency situations, were already present onsite at the theatre of operations. From the beginning, one of the leaders of Corpo Nacional de Escutas (CNE, one of the two National Scout Associations in the country), had been in Pedrógão Grande to coordinate the tasks of several dozen Scouts from the local units of the Coimbra and Portalegre/Castelo Branco districts who were there to provide support.
The Scout leader served as a liaison officer to the National Civil Protection Authority, and coordinated the Scouts’ duties behind the scenes to support the work taking place in the theatre of operations.
Ever since the outbreak of the devastating fire, Scouts from the Corpo Nacional de Escutas (CNE) and Associação dos Escoteiros de Portugal (AEP) have been providing backup support to firefighters – they prepared and distributed meals and water, helped in the operational maintenance of the fire brigade quarters, fed displaced or evacuated people, and supported the evacuation process.
On a short notice, dozens and dozens of Scouts from all over the country have made themselves available. While only a certain number of them were actually allowed to go to the impacted zone due to safety and operational reasons, others remain on standby. Meanwhile, the full network of Scouts worked diligently to gather needed goods, especially water and energy drinks, biscuits and energy bars, to be immediately transported from various parts of the country and delivered to local fire departments and civil authorities.
The Portuguese Scouts remain alert and prepared to respond to any current and future requests.
The Scouts’ efforts are recognised by civil society. The President of the Portuguese Republic, H. E. Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, in his appreciation speech at the theatre of operations, commended the Scouts and all those involved in the relief/rescue operation for their involvement and commitment to help others. The national media has also acknowledged and emphasised the positive role of the Portugese Scouts in this unfortunate situation.