Disaster responders test skills for 'The Big One'
MANILA, Philippines – How ready are our responders for a major earthquake in Metro Manila?
The 2017 Disaster Responders’ Challenge, now on its second year, aims to answer that very timely and important question in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City on December 4 and 5.
Responders evaluated if their training, skills, and equipment are up to par in case the West Valley Fault Line moves, generating a 7.2-magnitude earthquake. (READ: What dangers await when the West Valley Fault line moves?)
The 2017 Disaster Responders’ Challenge is an earthquake simulation exercise that tests capability and coordination between response units in collapsed structures in an urban setting. (READ: Part 2: What makes buildings earthquake-ready?)
Responders were evaluated based on their ability to properly assess the situation, administering first aid, use of available equipment, as well as their skills to improvise based on the needs of the emergency situation.
It also tested the logistics plans and operations of response units, as well as their stamina and resilience, with the conduct of 24-hour operations and minimal external assistance. Like in a real disaster, responders practice how to independently sustain and feed themselves during ongoing crisis operations. (READ: INFOGRAPHIC: How powerful is a magnitude 7.2 earthquake)
"Through this activity, we were able to test the viability of our Incident Command System, and capabilities of the different disaster response units in Metro Manila as well as neighboring provinces," Armed Forces chief General Rey Leonard Guerrero said in a message to participants.
Several government agencies and volunteer groups joined the event, including representatives from the local government units of Makati, Malabon, Mandaluyong, Navotas, Quezon City, Taguig, Paranaque, Muntinlupa, Pasig, and Laguna.
The following government agencies and volunteer groups also participated in the disaster response challenge:
- AFP Reserve Command
- AFP Reserve Command Urban Search and Rescue Team
- AFP V Luna Medical Center
- 1st Air Reserve Wing, 1st Air Reserve Center, Philippine Air Force
- 525th Engineering Battalion, Philippine Army
- Education, Doctrine, Training Command, Philippine Air Force
- Joint Task Force - National Capital Region
- Naval Construction Brigade, Philippine Navy
- Rescue Recon
- 505th Search and Rescue Auxiliary Group, Philippine Air Force
- Metro Manila Emergency Volunteer Corps
- MMDA K9 Corps
- National Service Reserve Corps
- RAHA Volunteers
- SR Fire Rescue & Communication Volunteers
The event's exercise director, Hector Reyes, hoped that the participants did not only participate but were able to practice the needed skills and capabilities.
"We expect, sakaling magkaroon again ng Disaster Responders’ Challenge next year, hindi lang tayo magparticipate, at bagkus ay magpractice ulit natin 'yung ating skills in responding to collapsed structures, in preparation for the Big One," said Reyes. (READ: Fault-finders, storm-chasers: Hazard mapping in the PH)
(We expect, should there be another Disaster Responders' Challenge next year, not just for everyone to participate, but for everyone to practice the skills [needed] in responding to collapsed structures, in preparation for the Big One.)
Based on the Metro Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction Study (MMEIRS), which analyzed different earthquake scenarios in Metro Manila, if a magnitude 7.2 earthquake from the West Valley Fault hits the mega city at nighttime, it could leave 33,500 people dead.
The West Valley Fault, which traverses various parts of Metro Manila and surrounding provinces, is anticipated to critically affect the entire country. – Rappler.com