OCD ARMM spearheads the conduct of 6-day training on Water, Search, and Rescue (WASAR) for the autonomous region’s component island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi held at Lantaka Hotel, Zamboanga City on 13-18 March 2016.

The activity was facilitated by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and participated by 40 participants from the Provincial Disasters Risk Reduction Offices of the respective provinces, select Barangay Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officers, Local Government Units, OCD-ARMM BASULTA Staff, the Bureau of Fire Protection and various community volunteer responders.

Myrna J. Angot, OIC of the OCD-ARMM, said that the water search and rescue training, one of the priority programs under the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management as stipulated in the Republic Act 10121 is equally important to lessen the threats on rescuers when rescuing victims or people during incidents.

“In the training, they will be more aware on how to find hazards, and at the same time learn the mechanisms on personal safety and survival, and basic life saving. We would want to strengthen the capacities of our rescue teams in the ARMM,” said Angot.

Accordingly, participants were taught on the proper way of water entry, identified the types of swimming, lifesaving, group survival, water evolution and even knot tying. In pursuit to instil the objective of the activity, a briefing and orientation on water safety and life saving was first conducted one day before the actual staging of the training.

Al Khabir Sahirin, Planning Officer, said during a brief lecture with participants that the Basic Life Support or the BLS as part of the training is simply the basic aid provided to an individual who suddenly loses consciousness and suddenly stops breathing.

Sahirin said the Basic life support is a first aid measure to maintain the ABCs which stand for airway, breathing and circulation without auxiliary equipment. He added it is not only advantageous for us but it is also advantageous for everyone around us.

“This will surely make you prepared for any life threatening situation that require basic life support,” said Sahirin.

Petty Officer Alfredo B. Almeniana, Commander of the Philippine Coast Guard’s Special Operations Group, said that running a rubber boat and rescuing is totally different for all your senses have to work in order to survive. “You have to be in focus at all times and stay in full control of the situation,” he said.

Further, Almeniana has likewise mentioned that our rescue teams are certainly the frontliners who take risks and hazards most especially during major disasters.

“These participants who are being taught on various rescue techniques that are very useful in the line of their work in ensuring public safety will surely appreciate all their efforts and hard work as they go along and finish the training course. In the succeeding days, water safety, and water survival shall also take place,” he said.

Meanwhile, Angot has reiterated the need to have more fully trained volunteers in every community and cited that even the autonomous region is now considered a disaster prone area where it is often visited by disasters such as typhoons every year, and there really is a need to empower every citizen with life-saving skills.

“This endeavour is also part of strengthening our approach on Community Based Disaster Risk Reduction and Management,” said Angot.