Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Leave doors, pathways
open during earthquakes

TAGBILARAN CITY, June 22, (PIA)--During earthquakes, leave doors open and hallways open.

This surfaced as among the most noticed "mistakes" which disaster and risk reduction management officers (DRRMO) noted upon evaluating some protocols in disaster evacuation which government offices and schools adopted during the simultaneous national earthquake drill, June 22, 2016 in Bohol.

"Leave the doors open, it could mean an easy access out for people trapped in the building, and during earthquakes, a closed door can jam and further inhibit escape," reiterates Mark Du Galia, DRRMO of the TaRSIER 117.

"A closed door can also impair quick rescue, and it might take time before rescuers could break doors and lose precious time," added Provincial DRRMO Anthony Damalerio, who personally attended the event.

TaRSIER 117, the emergency medical and rescue arm of the PDRRMC was with the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) assessing the earthquake drill which started 8:52 Am at the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Provincial Office.

Except for fire incidents when you need to contain the fire so you close doors, an earthquake is an entirely different scenario, informs Fire Officer III Sircio Castilla, of the Tagbilaran City Fire Station, who also took note of the deficiency in the earthquake evacuation protocols.

At the nearby Cogon Elementary school, hundreds of pupils emerged from outside their classrooms, books spread over their heads and crouched to the evacuation center, established at the open space in front of the school stage.

Marlyn Baluca, Grade 2 teacher at Cogon, said they have been instructed for her class to occupy a portion across the pathway.

"We need to vacate the pathways, so rescue vehicles and personnel could easily move about during emergency situations," she explained, amidst the background of crouching pupils covering their heads.     

Nearby, school disaster coordinator Oliver Poh announced on a loudspeaker the need for the grade level ground marshals to raise the white flags to designate an "all accounted for" after the headcount.

Although escape from the offices and classrooms were found to be orderly, DRRMOs saw the foot traffic caused by children as concern. 

Also, reports reaching the PDRRMO said several schools did not put up their own earthquake drills.

But Damalerio said the Department of Education has adopted different set up, adding that they have even designated some 57 DRM officers in their respective districts.

"Putting up earthquake drills is important so that children will know what they would do and where they would go every time an earthquake, or fire occurs," stressed Damalerio.

Drills also allow authorities to put up and publish evacuation sites, escape plans and other evacuation safety reminders.

PDRRMC members also believe constant drills can make disaster response automatically ingrained in the minds of children.

When they know what to do and where to go, it keeps them from panic, which is among the most fatal mistakes one can do in disasters. (rac/PIA-7/Bohol)

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