As Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) becomes an increasingly serious concern in Catbalogan City, Orientation on Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Operations held last July 22, 2013 at the Sangguniang Panlungsod Session Hall, was recently added to its list of activities aimed at preparing the city for any occurrence of disaster or emergency.

USAR is described as a multi-hazard discipline involving the location, extrication and initial medical stabilization of victims trapped in confined spaces due to natural disasters, structural collapse, transportation accidents, mines and collapsed trenches. (source: Wikipedia)

The Office of Civil Defense – Regional Office (OCD-RO 8) OIC Regional Director Rey M. Gozon conducted the said orientation for volunteers of the City Government’s local coordinating body known as Systematic Technical Emergency Preparedness – Unified Program (STEP-UP Tekwa Cares).

As she welcomed the delegates and participants, City Mayor Stephany Uy-Tan thanked Director Gozon for personally spearheading the said activity. She also urged the volunteers who were present to become active partners of the City Government in ensuring the safety and security of the public.

The said orientation is in itself a preliminary activity in preparation for the actual training to be held this September 2013, which will be participated in by representatives of the Local Council on Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (LCDRRM).

Natural calamities in the form of floods and landslides in recent years have brought the public’s attention to the importance of disaster preparedness as another development indicator.

This orientation as well as the eventual training was meant to increase the capabilities of the city’s volunteers in responding to pleas for assistance. The training will also be aimed at strengthening the city’s network of concerned agencies to make their response quicker and more effective.

Enhancing the skills and capabilities of the city volunteers go hand-in-hand with the purchase of modern rescue and first-aid equipments made by the City Government last year to ensure a more comprehensive response to emergencies and disasters. Among the purchased equipments were CCTV Cameras that were installed in various streets to combat crime in the urban areas.

Under the new administration, the STEP-UP was established as a 24-hour hotline to coordinate and facilitate the cooperation between various agencies and organizations responding to calls for help.

The orientation on urban search and rescue operation and the incoming training comes at an opportune time as STEP-UP volunteer aides go into full working mode with the recent connection of GLOBE and BAYANTEL phone lines meant to accommodate as many emergency calls as possible.

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