Policemen in Region 8 were trained on Search and Rescue capabilities being at the forefront of securing the disaster-prone region.

Around forty eight (48) participants composed of 6 Police Commissioned Officers and 42 Police Non-Commissioned Officers from the Regional Public Safety Battalion 8 (RPSB 8) were among the participants in the Search and Rescue (SAR) training held at the Regional Special Training Unit 8 (RSTU 8) recently.

Earlier, two similar SAR trainings were also conducted by the Samar Police Provincial Office which were attended by at least 50 policemen from 7 municipalities in Samar.

In his message, Police Regional Director PCSupt. Elmer R. Soria said those trainings were initiated to make the police aware and knowledgeable on the quick establishment of precautionary measures when there is a calamity.

“The PNP, being at the forefront in protecting and securing people against all forms of harm, must take some precautionary measures to ensure that disaster pass without undue loss of life, human suffering and damages to property”, said the EV’s top cop during the opening ceremony of the Disaster Search and Rescue Management Training on Monday morning at PRO8 Grandstand.

The policemen with their respective training tools during the opening ceremony of the Search and Rescue Training.

“We cannot prevent or stop a flash flood or an earthquake from happening but we can be prepared for its onslaught and mitigate the damage”, Supt. Soria said, adding that PRO8 as far as disaster management is concerned, will focus on disaster mitigation through training, simulation exercises, purchase of SAR equipment and identification of disaster risk areas.

Lying on the northwestern fringes of the Pacific Ring of Fire, Eastern Visayas experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activities and is frequently visited by storms from the Pacific Ocean. The region receives heavy rainfall throughout the year with no pronounced dry season making it prone to landslides.

On September 1 this year, thousands of residents had been affected by the magnitude 7.6 earthquake that rattled Eastern Visayas and destroyed or damaged several houses with more than P12.8 million worth of damages to public infrastructure.

On February 17, 2006, a mudslide tragedy which pegged an official death toll of 1,126 transpired in Brgy. Ginsaugon, St. Bernard, Southern Leyte while on November 5, 1991, the Ormoc River overflowed, bringing with it numerous logs, resulting in a flashflood in the city’s lower areas and took over 4,000 lives, 3,000 missing, 14,000 destroyed homes and more than P600 million worth of damaged property.

The region’s top cop is confident that the training will improve the disaster response capability of his men and ensure their readiness in responding to emergency and disaster situations that require swift response from public safety and emergency services.

The SAR course includes hypothetical and practical trainings on application of skills in first aid, basic life support, boat–handling, knot-tying, deployment of life-saving buoys and devices, and removal of debris in collapsed structures.

The Regional Director added that this kind of training is in line with the PNP’s Letter of Instruction “Saklolo”, an updated and enhanced plan of action of the PNP on disaster preparedness and response management in support to other concerned agencies. LOI “Saklolo” prescribes the support strategy, operational concept, and scheme of implementation to accomplish the PNP’s support mission in times of disaster and calamity situations.

He added that the PRO8 initiative to improve its own disaster response capability is in line with Presidential Decree 1566 that calls for the strengthening of the Philippine Disaster Control Capability and Establishing the National Program on Community Disaster Preparedness; and Republic Act 10121 or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010.