INSTITUTIONALIZED DISASTER PREPAREDNESS IN PH

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INSTITUTIONALIZED DISASTER PREPAREDNESS IN PH

By: JENNIS I. NIDEA
The preparation of the government through its various agencies particularly the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) against the coming of the “BIG ONE” or the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that is expected (only God knows when) to hit major cities of MetroManila and the areas of Bulaca, Laguna, etc. because Oripening of the West Valley Fault which is located underneath from Angat Dam in Bulacan to Metro Manila, according to PAGASA.  The MMDA throught its Disaster Preparedness Program has organize its Response Team and trying to educate people by actively participating in the community drill.
Its unfortunate, however, that in the Philippines a disaster-prone country, what with different kinds of calamities that hit the country such as: typhoons with storm surges on some some areas, remember Yolanda in 2013 that brought devastations in Samar-Leyte Provinces and after almost 2 years now, not yet fully recovered despite the pouring in of the billions of dollars financial assistance of various countries and international non-gov't. organizations NGOs.
In one news items in the national dailies, Sen. Ferdinand ‘Bongbong' Marcos, jr. was quoted as saying: “that there is an urgent need to institionalize disaster preparedness in order to prevent or minimize another Yolanda devastation”. Yes, that's the sad realities in the Philippines landscape. There is no institutionalized disaster preparedness program more so in the response phase during and after calamity. What we have (another sad reality) is the institutionalized “Epal” program of some politicians using disaster preparedness campaign program with the main objective of advancing their own personal interest for their political aspirations.
Another sad reality is that no particular nor specific gov't agency is incharge atleast in the disaster preparedness phase nor of the volunteer groups.
BARANGAY EMERGENCY RESPONSE TEAM
Now back to the “big one”.  What will happen if a major disaster hit a particular place and the government's first responders who Are supposed to provide fire and medical services and other emergency response will not be able to meet the demand for these services. Factors as number of victims, communication failures, and road blockages will prevent people from accessing emergency services. People will have to rely on each other for help in order to meet their immediate life saving and life sustaining needs.
One also expects that under these kinds of conditions, family members, fellow employees, and neighbors will spontaneously try to help each other. This was the case following Yolanda disaster where untrained, spontaneous volunteers saved number of people. However, 100 people lost their lives while attempting to save others. This is a high price to pay and is preventable through training.
If we can predict that emergency services will not meet immediate needs following a major disaster, especially if there is no warning as in an earthquake, and untrained people will spontaneously volunteer, what can government do to prepare citizens for this eventuality?
Filipinos, especially the common tao (masa) are known for volunteerism. given an opportunity, it is innate in the Filipino character to volunteer their time, effort and even the last penny in his pocket, just to help others in distress. What the government should do:
1. present its citizenry the facts about what to expect following a major disaster in terms of immediate services.
2. Give the message about their responsibility for mitigation and preparedness.
3. Train them in needed life saving skills with emphasis on decision making skills, rescuer safety,  
4. Inculcate the importance of doing the greatest good for the greatest number, and
5. Apply the Barangay Emergency Response Team Concept (BERT) by organizing volunteers to serve as an extension of first responder services offering immediate help to victims until professional services arrive.
The Barangay Emergency Response Team (BERT) concept can be developed as a Special Program/Project by the Department of Interior & Local Government (DILG). The Whittier Narrows earthquake in 1987 underscored the area-wide threat of a major disaster in California, USA. Further, it confirmed the need for training civilians to meet their immediate needs. the DILG may create a Disaster Preparedness Division with the purpose of training citizens and private and government employees.
The BERT training program will further the process of citizens understanding their responsibility in preparing for disaster. It also increases their ability to safely help themselves, their family and their neighbors. The proponent suggests that the DILG recognizes the importance of preparing citizens. The Office of Civil Defense (OCD), the PNP and the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) adopt and expand the BERT materials believing them applicable to all hazards.
The BERT course will benefit any person who takes it. This individual will be better prepared to respond to and cope with the aftermath of a disaster. Additionally, if a community wants to supplement its response capability after a disaster, civilians or barangay folks can be recruited and trained as volunteers then organize neighborhood, business, and government teams that, in essence, will be auxiliary responders. These groups can provide immediate assistance to victims in their area, organize spontaneous volunteers who have not had the training, and collect disaster intelligence that will assist professional responders with prioritization and allocation of resources following a disaster.
WIND CHIMES AS EARTHQUAKE EARLY WARNING DEVISE
What if the so-called the “big one” will happen at night time? When all the people are sleeping so deep that they can't feel the jolt of the earthquake, especially if they are staying on a closed bedroom because its air conditioned and they will just wake up when their house or the building  have started to collapse? Just imagine the lost of lives.
No matter how they participate in a community drill and memorized what they learn in the drill, that will go to waste as they cannot execute what they learned as they are fast asleep.  One solution is to create noise within a closed room by putting or hanging a wind chime (I heard about this idea from KBNet Malaya Laguna Provincial Chairman Joe Estrada) which will surely make a noise even without winds as it will move with the jolt of an earthquake. Thus, make a noise which could wake up person while sleeping.
OLD GAS/OXYGEN TANKS AS “KALEMBANG”
Another is the old gas/oxygen tanks (originally implemented by the Smart Telecommunication Company). These tanks which are supposedly unserviceable already can be use full again and can save lives in the event of a disaster. A tank will be hanged at the Barangay Hall or in any strategic place of a particular barangay or subdivision/village and use the same as “kalembang” that will be banged hard to create big noise that will serve as the community warning/signal if an earthquake is happening and therefore time to execute all what the people learned during community training and  drills.  Said tank can also serve as the signal to start mass evacuations during typhoons & floodings.
(The author is the founder/national president of KBNet Philippines (Kalipunan ng mga Boluntir sa Pilipinas ), a national network & umbrella organization of volunteer groups in the country. He founded KBNet Phils. In 2009.   It has at present, seven (7) member-organizations namely: Kabalikat Bicol or KB Bicol, a radio communication group which the author co-founded in 2006. The author served as KB Bicol  first Regional Governor from 2006 t0 2010.   In 2008, KB Bicol was adjudged as the national winner by then National Disaster & Coordinating Council (NDCC) now known as the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) as the 2009 National Outstanding Private Volunteer Organization of the Philippines; Kabalikat Malaya Federation; KB Mediacom; KBNet Quezon Province, which this author founded in 2010 for the province of Quezon; KBNet NCR , founded by this author in 2012 for the National Capital Region; KBNet Malaya Laguna and; Health Emergency Responders Organization (HERO), also founded by this author for the student volunteers

Date entered: August 09, 2015 11:08:26
Entered by: Jennis I. Nidea
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