Feature: Cutting-edge Chinese tech backs Ecuador's emergency hotline

Source: Xinhua| 2019-07-17 10:59:09|Editor: Yang Yi
Video PlayerClose

QUITO, July 16 (Xinhua) -- Pablo Cordoba survived a devastating earthquake that rocked Ecuador in 2016 by calling the national emergency hotline ECU 911, a cutting-edge system designed by China.

Nowadays, Cordoba, 56, is working for the emergency service that saved his life three years ago, when it dispatched rescuers to dig him out from beneath a toppled building.

"Milagrito," or "Little Miracle," as Cordoba has been nicknamed, dedicates himself to helping others survive disasters or other potentially dangerous situations.

Mainly developed by the China National Electronics Import and Export Corporation (CEIEC), ECU 911 is a pillar of Ecuador's emergency response system, local authorities said.

"Via citizen alerts and the surveillance of 4,500 cameras, it's possible to mobilize rescuers, fire fighters, police officers, transit police, soldiers or machinery around the country," said Francisco Guevara, an ECU 911 coordinator.

In 2018, ECU 911, with 16 command and control centers nationwide, attended to about 3.7 million emergencies and helped save more than 1.2 million lives, according to official data.

The emergency service is backed by such technological innovations as Mobile Locator, which can zero in on the location and coordinates of a potential victim's mobile, making it easier to find the person.

It was the powerful 7.8-magnitude earthquake hitting Ecuador's northern coast on April 16, 2016, that really put the emergency system to test.

"I am a living example that ECU (911) does work. It is prepared for these types of events," Cordoba told Xinhua.

He was trapped for nearly two days under the collapsed walls and floors of five-story El Gato Hotel in his hometown of Portoviejo, the capital of Manabi Province in western Ecuador, where he had worked for some 30 years as a receptionist.

For 46 hours, he held on without food or water, surviving on his own urine, while his wife made funeral plans for her missing husband who was believed to be dead. Yet he was lucky and rescued with the help of the emergency system.

A total of 673 people died in the worst-hit provinces of Manabi and Esmeraldas, where reconstruction efforts continue.

Cordoba lost his previous job as the hotel was destroyed, but found a more fulfilling one at ECU 911's center of operations in Portoviejo.

"I got the job thanks to the earthquake. It's ironic to say, but it's true," said Cordoba, who works in the maintenance department that ensures the electrical equipment is running well.

"It's very satisfying to see how they (the rescuers) give their all to help other people," he said, expressing his appreciation for China's advanced technology to implement ECU 911, he said.

"China's technology has made quite a lot of progress and thanks to that, we (Ecuadorians) are at the leading edge of technology in emergency management," he added.