Medical services for Pope Benedict XVI’s visit largest of the year

Emergency Medical Services of Catalonia (SEM) will be equipped with 160 people, 38 ambulances and 4 hospital tents for Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Barcelona. Thousand of people, most of them old, are expected to be on the streets and in the events scheduled. Barcelona is getting ready for the Pope’s visit taking place on Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th of November to bless the Sagrada Família church.

CNA / Guillem Sánchez

October 30, 2010 12:25 AM

Barcelona (ACN).- The medical team that will monitor Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the Sagrada Família church is comparable in size to the one put in place for Spanish Princess Cristina’s wedding. According to the head of preventative services, Jaume Gil, Emergency Medical Services of Catalonia (SEM) together with the Red Cross are dispensing 12 doctors, 22 nurses, 40 medical technicians and 60 lifeguards for the event. Teams of 2 people with special bag packs will be spread out along the perimeter of the Sagrada Família and ambulances will be available for any incident that may occur. SEM is preparing for the event carefully, as many of the event’s attendees will be elders. 

SEM will begin operating from the Barcelona El Prat Airport as soon as the Pope lands and will not stop until he leaves Catalonia on Sunday. The SEM will coordinate the Red Cross services involved, which will also be providing medical services for the Pope’s visit.

The most complex part of the operation will begin on the 7th of November at 4 am. It will be some hours before the Pope’s parade on the streets, while he will go from the Archbishop’s Palace to the Sagrada Família. Two different teams will cover the Sagrada Família zone, one at the perimeter of the VIP zone where journalists and handicapped people will be present and another along the exterior perimeter.

Inside the perimeter, SEM will send out teams of 2 to 3 people equipped with emergency aid kits. Four temporary tent hospitals will also be set up, 2 SEM hospitals outside the perimeter and 2 Red Cross hospitals on Diagonal and Avinguda Gaudí, to cover the street parade.

Gil explained that the teams will be constantly following the Pope’s trajectory. “This way we are always providing the maximum assistance to people”. SEM will cover the Pope’s exit from the Archbishop’s Palace –in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter-, his return to have lunch and his visit to the Hospital Nen Déu in the afternoon.

Ordinary health services ‘will not be affected’

Gil insisted that all of the SEM services provided for the Pope’s visit are “additional”. Therefore, ordinary SEM services for citizens should not “at all” be affected.

Good weather, but higher risks with older population

One of the favourable aspects about the Pope’s visit is that it is taking place in November. “If it were summer with the possibility of a heat wave, it would be much worse”, said Gil. He stressed that many of the attendees will be “older people”, making the need for medical services much greater.

Total services:


Equipment: 12 advanced vital support units, 12 intermediate vital support units, 6 emergency response vehicles, 2 tent hospitals (2 modules per hospital), 2 transmission and operative coordination units.

Staff: 10 emergency specialist doctors, 22 nurses, 40 medical transport technicians, 8 coordination auxiliaries, 7 commands. 87 people in total.

Red Cross

Equipment: 4 intermediate vital support units, 10 basic vital support units, 2 emergency response vehicles, 2 ten hospitals (2 modules per hospital), 2 command vehicles.

Staff: 2 emergency specialist doctors, 6 nurses, 60 lifeguards, 5 commands. 73 people in total.