EDC director Art ValdezAfter reading this, let your mind-set be: When the “Big One” happens, “You’re On Your Own” (YOYO).
July 15, 2015 would have been the ideal day for a museum and library tour by Benpres Building Lopez Group tenants, but it was not the case. There were urgent matters to be taken up in the Earthquake Preparedness and Awareness forum and time was of the essence. The natural disaster could happen anytime.
The preregistered Lopez employees were seated by cluster according to where their homes were located in the metro. Later in the forum, the organizer, First Philippine Realty Corporation (FPRC), explained that the cluster arrangement by four quadrants is how Metro Manila will be divided when the so-called Big One strikes.
If the participant has knowledge of what to expect in the quadrant where he/she lives, then it would help in preparedness. Everyone’s mind-set when this horrific disaster happens should be “You’re On Your Own” for the first four days after the quake.
The reason is that everyone providing rescue and search services will be overwhelmed as most of those expected to help will themselves be victims. Family preparedness was the call of the day.
Benpres Building is stable
The day’s main speakers were Energy Development Corporation (EDC) director Art Valdez of the Philippine Mt. Everest team with teammate Dr. Ted Esguerra of EDC’s disaster preparedness group and DZMM’s “Red Alert”; Dino Juan of Foresight Life Resilience Corp.; and FPRC’s Rico de Manzana who presented the Benpres Building’s organizational chart for emergency preparedness incidents which will be headed by Oscar R. Lopez Jr., with De Manzana himself as the alternate. De Manzana gave a report later in the forum that the building is a stable infrastructure.
Two scenarios for the earthquake preparedness session were presented—what to do when the earthquake happens while you are at home, and when you are in the office.
Esguerra shared tips on what to do before, during and after an earthquake which should really focus on preparing yourself and your household. He also demonstrated the correct way to go down the stairs (beside the wall) if caught in a building, and the need to have a go bag for each member of the family.
Needed: Family disaster preparedness plan
Esguerra reiterated the importance of setting up a family disaster plan and making sure everyone is safe before venturing out to help others.
Drills should be conducted which include where family members should evacuate, where to go if caught in school or on the road (go to nearest church or evacuation area like open spaces, parks and, if inside a car, stay inside) and life skills like how to give first aid and how to use fire extinguishers which every home should have. Esguerra explained that in earthquake scenarios, fires usually occur and having extinguishers on hand is important as roads will be impassable to fire trucks.
He showed the “ideal” identification card he calls HELP+ID or Health Emergency Life Profile, which has data on age, blood type, weight, allergies, health condition, whether one is a Person with Disability, medications and emergency contact name/ number. He also reminded the participants to use the tripod position when on the floor and to always look up.
Dino Juan, whose foresight mantra is “we see what you don’t,” noted that on September 29, 2014 there was a magnitude 2.7 earthquake that hit Mandaluyong and that the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology “has indicated the Valley Fault System as its possible source.” This underscored concerns that Metro Manila is long overdue for a major tremor.
Are you already paranoid? Good!
“Where will you be?” asked Juan, stressing that people should think about the scenario 96 hours and beyond.
Even for D-day plus three to five days after, this will be the time that local volunteer rescuers will arrive in the National Capital Region, including foreign volunteers who will land almost 100 kilometers away in Clark and Subic.
Hopelessness will prevail and people will start an exodus to nowhere as lawlessness and desperate behavior increase. After two days or even earlier, the smell of decaying flesh will fill the air; more cadavers in body bags will line the streets; all open spaces like camps, golf courses, parks and mall parking areas will be occupied by homeless victims; and sanitation/hygiene will be a serious problem.
For peace of mind, be prepared
But if you and your families are prepared and well stocked, then helplessness will be lessened.
Juan shared that after the typhoon Yolanda disaster in Tacloban, the US government was looking for its affected citizens there. A neatlydressed lady came up who did not at all look as if a disaster had taken place in her area. She said she was well because she had listened to warnings of what was going to happen days before, and that she had prepared.
At the end of every preparation, everyone is asked to pray, pray, pray.
For more info on disaster preparedness, inquire with your building safety officer or listen to DZMM’s “Red Alert”. (Story/Photos by: Dulce Festin-Baybay)
Foresight Life Resilience Corp. senior consultant Dino Juan