El Salvador: "Safer Access" model successfully put into practice during 2009 elections

03-04-2009 Feature

In order to be able to respond quickly and effectively to any possible incidents during the presidential elections in March in El Salvador, the Salvadorean Red Cross implemented its Elections 2009 Contingency Plan, with the technical and financial support of the ICRC. The ICRC supported the National Society's prevention work and ensured that its operational and security guidelines were followed.


  © Salavadorean Red Cross 
  Use of the new logo was among the recommendations for the elections    
  For the 2009 presidential elections in El Salvador, the Salvadorean Red Cross:  
  • set up 89 first-aid posts
  • activated 52 branches throughout the country
  • had 65 emergency vehicles at its disposal (ambulances and rescue teams)
  • had over 600 volunteers in the field
    Even though no serious violence was documented, Ricardo Velázquez, ICRC representative in charge of cooperation, considered that the National Society was extremely well prepared for the different situations that could have arisen. In his opinion, the entire joint ICRC and Salvadorean Red Cross operation " met all expectations " .

Cooperation between the ICRC and the Salvadorean Red Cross in preparing the contingency plan mainly consisted of providing technical advice using tools from the “Safer Access” model – a guide to better security conditions for Red Cross members working and assisting in situations that involve a certain amount of risk.

Recommendations included advice on institutional visibility, coordination with the local authorities and on the location of first-aid posts.

This experience will help us implement contingency plans in other contexts and will also strengthen our current operations,” said Mr Velásquez.

The ICRC began working with the National Society last year to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the “Safer Access” model and to put each element into practice before the electoral process got fully underway. A system for analysing the information gathered in each of the model's processes was also developed.

  © Salvadorean Red Cross 
Salvadorean Red Cross first-aid post    
    The joint ICRC and National Society contingency plan tackles all possible scenarios in which violence may occur and contains the following general measures:
  • Locate the wounded and provide them with medical treatment, supporting local health services which often have limited material resources.

  • If a significant number of people are detained, exchange information continuously with delegates in order to be able to offer protection and prevent disappearances.

  • Should anyone be sick or wounded in an area that is blocked off, arrange an evacuation to ensure that their health is not compromised.