COVID19. An Alumunus Reports from the FrontlineALUMNI OF THE SDA BOCCONI MASTER IN ECONOMICS AND MANAGEMENT OF PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION (EMMAP) HAVE BEEN INVOLVED IN THE MANAGEMENT OF THE CURRENT HEALTH CRISIS. PROF RAFFAELLA SAPORITO, ON HER BLOG #VALOREPUBBLICO ON THE SDA BOCCONI INSIGHT PLATFORM, INTERVIEWED ONE OF THEM, MASSIMO LA PIETRA, MANAGER OF THE UNIFIED OPERATIONS ROOM OF THE ITALIAN RED CROSS (CRI)
Massimo La Pietra is newly appointed manager of the Italian Red Cross' Unified Operations Room, and was in his office last Sunday to fight the spread of the epidemic. But he is new neither to the role, nor to the COVID-19 emergency. Massimo has long dealt with large-scale emergencies, since for over 15 years he has worked for the Civil Protection Office of the Prime Minister, in the Volunteer Service, which he has also directed in recent years.
A peculiar feature of our national civil protection system is its networked and collaborative nature, which sees central and local institutions actively working with non-profit and volunteer organizations to forecast, prevent, manage, and overcome civil emergencies. As manager of the Voluntary Service, Massimo was often around Italy to work alongside the thousands of local and national organizations engaged in civil protection, almost always on weekends, to meet the time-commitments of the volunteers. The transition to the Italian Red Cross was natural. "CRI proposed a beautiful project, in which I am a strong believer: work on the fusion and interoperability of the existing control rooms to create a single response center for major emergencies. Then the CoViD19 came.
How have you been dealing with the ongoing health emergency?
We can distinguish two phases to date. The first, linked to the crisis initially localized in China, which saw the Red Cross engaged from the start with hundreds of volunteers from all territorial committees at airports, in support of local health agencies. For example, it was us in charge of the bio-containment ambulance that transported the first infected patients in Italy to Spallanzani Institute in Rome".
How has your job changed since the discovery of viral outbreaks in Lombardy and Veneto?
The national operations room is playing a upport role both for territorial committees and for the citizenry, providing answers to hundreds of calls made by citizens living all over the country, thanks also to the presence of infectiologists in our structure. Since the outbreak in Lombardy and Veneto, in fact, calls have trebled and specific problems were posed, such as the conduct to follow in the event of viral symptoms or exposure to contaminated environments in Northern Italy. There are also requests for information regarding the decrees issued by national and regional government.
Whom are you targeting with your services in particular?
These days it is said that the most at risk in the event of coronavirus infection are the elderly and people with a chronic condition. Do not forget that this is a constant of all emergencies, health crises or otherwise: it is always the most fragile people that incur the biggest risk. For us, these people are the priority and in addition to the activities highlighted above, Italian Red Cross volunteers are engaged in a daily activity of support to the most vulnerable people, the elderly and the lonely, even if it is just the comfort of a word to help manage fear. Among the most frightened, let's not forget, are people belonging to the Chinese community, potentially more exposed to the risk of contagion, but also having more difficulty in accessing public health information".
The next steps?
“Services for the hearing impaired: our operations room in Todi is dedicated to receiving requests for these people, who interact with CRI operators via a particular software. We are gearing up so that they too can get information on the emergency in progress "
by Andrea Celauro
Translated by Alex Foti