Universitat Rovira i Virgili

Meritxell Benaiges Torrella

Associate professor at the Faculty of Nursing of the URV


The nursing staff are devoted not only to the care and attention of people of all ages, families, groups and communities, the sick or the healthy, in all contexts but also to promoting health, preventing disease and caring for the sick, disabled and dying. The essential functions of nursing are defence, the promotion of a safe environment, research, training and participation in health policies and in the management of patients and health systems.

This is the definition that the International Council of Nursing gave in 2002 of a discipline that is very present in the world of human-tower building and takes care of the people who make up the teams and not just when they are injured.

Caring is a human activity, a relationship and a complex process that requires proactive involvement. Caring is the word par excellence to define the figure of the nurse and is understood from a holistic perspective. The word holism comes from the Greek ὅλος and means "total", so it implies taking into account the person in all their spheres: psychic, social, physical and spiritual.

In the world of human-tower builders, caring for others is a constant that we find in many of the daily actions, in training sessions or when performing in public, in terms of the activity itself and the involvement and commitment shown by each of the members taking part, from the oldest to the youngest.

Tower-building teams are large families based on groups of individuals who have a personal interest in common. They give rise to relationships that go beyond crowning particularly difficult tower or putting in a good performance. The role of nursing is to take care of the people who are part of the group in the broadest sense of the expression and not just tending a scratch during a training session or putting ice on a bruise after a tower has fallen. Caring is also prevention and encouraging healthy habits.

We experienced a clear case of this broad vision of nursing in 2020 and 2021, marked by the Covid pandemic during which severe limitations were put on social gatherings. The tower builders also had to put a stop to their activity for a long period. In September 2021, on the occasion of the festivities of Santa Thecla in Tarragona, a protocol was drawn up to collect data to show that tower building did not involve a risk of contagion and that exhibitions could once again be organised. All tower builders who took part in training sessions or exhibitions were studied and required to do a lateral flow test. The study was conducted by a multidisciplinary group in which nursing staff were responsible for managing and performing the tests in each group according to the protocol. The conclusions drawn were that tower building was safe, as no positive cases were detected among the participants. This is another example of taking care of a group in the context of a global pandemic in the broadest sense of the term.

Another example of the fundamental role of nursing can be found in the Human-Tower Building Competition, which is organised every two years and hosts more than 40 teams over three days. It is designed as a competition and an event in which competitors can better themselves. It involves the construction of top-of-the-range towers with hundreds of people taking part as competitors or spectators and fast and efficient healthcare has to be guaranteed. For this reason, several health and non-health professionals are involved in setting up two medical check points that respond to all kinds of incidents.

The first is in the square itself, where an initial examination is made to determine whether the treatment can be carried out on site. Injuries such as minor bruises, small wounds or faints are treated, but if injuries are more serious or potentially more serious, they are referred to the second check point, located in the hospital, where further examinations can be made (X-rays, analyses, etc.) and more specific treatment can be given. The two check points are connected by an ambulance shuttle service that guarantees urgent transport to any tower builders who require it.

This is the most sophisticated medical support system in the tower-building world, but all exhibitions are required to have some medical support by the Coordinating Committee of human Tower Teams of Catalonia. Nurses also take part in developing protocols for first aid, for coordination and for the continuity of hospital care.

For all these reasons, nursing is an essential part of the world of tower building and its involvement is clear from all the aspects for which it is responsible: education, prevention, health promotion, first aid and hospital care.