San Giovanni a Piro (Italy) (AFP)
French hiker Simon Gautier, whose body was found Sunday, nine days after his disappearance, could have been helicopter if his phone had been geolocated, but the Italian reliefs do not have this possibility, told AFP several rescuers .
Fell in a deep ravine at the beginning of a hike in southern Italy, the student managed to make a call to the emergency services via the unique Italian number, the 118. He could not specify near what village he was.
The 118 operator, based in another region, failed to locate him, and the young Frenchman was unable to answer his successive calls. In the rugged and isolated nature park where he fell, it was also difficult to rely on mobile phone terminals to determine his position.
His smartphone, whose internet data had also been disconnected, remained lit all day Friday, according to the carabinieri. He would have died to the maximum in the hour that followed his fall.
In the villages of Cilento as in the Italian media, controversy swelled Tuesday after the discovery of the body of Simon Sunday night. "Was it this dying death to awaken the conscience?" Asked the local news site Positano News, referring to other local examples where a complicated geolocation has tragically delayed the relief.
"In such a situation, if the victim is geolocated, a helicopter can arrive within 10-15 minutes with a doctor," regretted to AFP Girolamo Galasso, the chief of alpine rescue in the region. "With the AML, we would have located Simon with 20 or 50 meters of precision, that's enough in this discovery area, but this system is not yet available."
The AML location system is used in about fifteen countries (United States, United Kingdom, Belgium, Austria or Iceland): it automatically sends an SMS to the emergency services with the precise positioning of the smartphone, which has by default this technology.
AML can be very useful in areas with low mobile data coverage, such as Cilento Park.
But France and Italy, testing the system in some regions, have not yet implemented it everywhere.
In a case similar to that of Simon Gautier, the corpse of a man who had gone to collect mushrooms - with his mobile phone - southeast of Naples had been found only nine months later by chance.
- The state partly responsible? -
The AML requires an adaptation of the emergency services, so that they can receive geolocation data - which is not yet the case in France or Italy. A European directive adopted at the end of 2018 has made the installation of the AML mandatory from 2020 throughout the European Union.
"Simon was to be located immediately," fires the president of distress number 118, Mario Balzanelli, with AFP. This doctor accuses the Italian state of having "its share of responsibility in this tragedy" by not having set up earlier this geolocation, yet made mandatory by decree since 2009.
When a new government emerges from the current crisis in Rome, Balzanelli expects the executive to extend the geolocation "in the name of Simon". He also wants the 112, now the unique emergency number in several areas of Italy, no longer replace the numbers of firefighters or the gendarmerie. People in distress are referred by a first non-specialized operator, "losing more than a minute, often crucial," according to Balzanelli.
In Italy, once alerted, alpine rescue sends an SMS to people in distress, who in one click can transmit their position. But this solution supposes that the person is still conscious.
On Tuesday, on the port of San Giovanni a Piro, Italian parents, shocked by Simon's death, told their teenagers to tell them exactly where they would go for a walk.
© 2019 AFP