The College of Medicine (COM) in cooperation with the West Visayas State University Center for Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (WVSU-CDRRM) conducted the fire and earthquake seminar at Room 202 Roxas Hall on March 16, 2017. The drills were performed right after each lecture at the adjoining lot outside of the COM building.
COM Dean Dr. Joselito F. Villaruz acknowledges the importance of staging this seminar and drill not only as a means to comply for accreditation, but to make sure everybody is prepared when disaster strikes. “I believe disaster risk reduction and management is not only a training intended for students, faculty, and staff, rather it is an important activity which everyone should attend and undergo,” explains Dr. Villaruz, “As medical practitioners, people expect more from us because we save lives and we should likewise be equipped with the knowledge and skills to minimize the number of casualities when unwanted events happen”.
A lecture on earthquake, was conducted by Mr. Jerry V. Bionat, the Provincial Government Department Head of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office. He explained that disaster preparedness in the Philippines started during the Commonwealth days when then President Manuel L. Quezon issued Executive Order Nos. 335 and 337 with focus only on the “during” and “after” disaster programs and management. “That should not be the case because the Philippines is located along the Ring of Fire, or the typhoon belt. It refers to a large Pacific Ocean region where many of the Earth’s volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur.” explains Mr. Bionat. “This is the reason why our country has suffered from so many deadly typhoons, earthquakes, volcano eruptions and other natural disasters. Actually, if you read researches and news sites, you will discover that approximately 80 typhoons develop above tropical waters, of which 19 enter the Philippine region.”
On May 27, 2010, Republic Act 10121 otherwise known as Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Act of 2010 was signed. This is an act mandated to strengthen disaster management in the Philippines, and aims to develop a framework and roll out resources that will enable the national government, the local government units, and other stakeholders to build communities that can survive disasters.
In the afternoon, COM welcomed Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) Senior Fire Officer (SFO) 1 Antonio Escobido who enlightened the audience about the importance of holding a fire drill in all commercial and academic institutions. “Republic Act 9514 otherwise known as the Revised Fire Code of the Philippines of 2008 is an Act that states that it is the policy of the State to ensure public safety and promote economic development through the prevention and suppression of all kinds of destructive fires and promote the professionalization of the fire service as a profession. Additionally, it also states that the State shall enforce all laws, rules and regulations to ensure adherence to standard fire prevention and safety measures, and promote accountability for fire safety in the fire protection service and prevention service”. He also emphasized that schools are ideal venues for sharing knowledge and it is therefore expected that they will serve as role models in disaster prevention awareness, therefore conducting annual fire drills ensures the efficiency and safety of fire exits and facilities in the case of an emergency. “Proper execution of drills ensure the orderly exit of occupants wherein control and prevention of panic is emphasized”, concludes SFOI Escobido.
The earthquake and fire drills that followed were guided by the CDRRM OIC Coordinator Prof. Berlouie Baga-an in cooperation with the COM faculty and staff. They also had the assistance of the Ground Servicing Office (GSO) personnel as well as faculty and students-in-charge of alarming, reporting of the incident, evacuation, assembly, and the final headcount.