OCD: Provincial gov’t needs improvement in disaster response

Members of a rescue and protection team simulates an extrication of a victim during the Nationwide Simultaneous Earthquake Drill (NSED) at the Iloilo Provincial Capitol on March 25, 2023.

By Rjay Zuriaga Castor

The provincial government of Iloilo needs to improve its response to emergency preparedness and management, according to the Office of Civil Defense Western Visayas (OCD-6).

“They’ve already mastered the basics, particularly in investigation and conducting search and rescue. The next step is to level up. They really need to establish or institute the elements of response,” said Melissa Banias, OCD-6 operations section chief.

The OCD’s statement comes after the Nationwide Simultaneous Earthquake Drill (NSED) at the Iloilo Provincial Capitol on Monday.

“We talk about the incident management team, the response cluster, and the Emergency Operations Center. Ensuring the interoperability of these three mechanisms is another level,” she added.

Banias emphasized that the provincial government was able to meet most of the parameters in the government-initiated nationwide earthquake drill, particularly the warning system, participants, communication equipment, and other medical assets.

However, she pointed out minor shortcomings like the lack of a security cordon area in the evacuation area and the building.

“There should be a cordon in the area to indicate that the building is off-limits. And the area where they evacuated should also be secured, but we haven’t seen any security officers to manage it,” she said.

Meanwhile, the OCD official noted the significance of simulation drills in developing the muscle memory of the public for disaster emergencies.

Banias further encouraged local government units to conduct emergency drills in addition to the quarterly NSED conducted by the national government.

“This conduct of drills should be part of their preparedness measures because they have funds for this,” she added.