Press Release
May 5, 2009

Disaster preparedness measures key to survival against calamities--Gordon

Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon today reiterated his call for the establishment of disaster preparedness and mitigation measures to enhance the survival capability of the country against all types of disasters.

Gordon, chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC), made the call as the latest typhoon, "Dante", to hit the country left at least 23 people dead and 10,137 families displaced in the Bicol Region, particularly in Catanduanes, Albay, Sorsogon, Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur.

"We have to end the cycle of disaster damage. We already know that every year an average of 20 typhoons hit the country and yet we still lack the necessary preparations to lessen or avert damages brought by these typhoons," he said.

"These disasters usually result in loss of life, human suffering, loss of income, and property loss and damage. Measures designed towards disaster preparedness and mitigation and emergency services are, therefore, necessary," he added.

Gordon, one of the authors of Senate Bill 3086, an Act strengthening Philippine disaster risk management capability, stressed the importance of crafting disaster preparedness and mitigation measures so that not only the government, but also the public know what to do in times of calamities.

According to the latest forecast of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) another tropical storm, which would be given the local name "Emong", might soon enter the Philippine area of responsibility.

"If we have readied disaster mitigation measures we can easily organize local officials, volunteers and the public, especially those in typhoon-prone areas, to be prepared so that when disasters come, they can already help themselves and their neighbors because they know what to do," Gordon said.

The PNRC, under Gordon's leadership, has formed the Red Cross 143. It is a program that seeks to form a group of 44 volunteers in every barangay. They will serve as the eyes, ears, hands and feet of the Red Cross in every community.

The duties of the members of the Red Cross 143 include: (1) Predict possible threats, natural calamities or armed conflicts, in the community; (2) Plan what to do in times of disasters; (3) Prepare the community for what it would need, such as food, water, medicines, first aid kit, among others; (4) Practice or conduct first aid trainings and emergency evacuation drills; (5) Report instantly to the Red Cross pertinent information about the disaster; and (6) Respond immediately to those in need.

The PNRC continuously upgrades and acquires its equipment, including ambulances, fire trucks and rubber boats, to respond quickly to more victims of disasters and calamities.

During its the 62nd anniversary last April 15, the PNRC distributed new Emergency Response Units, including 32 ambulances, 10 fire trucks and four motorcycle ambulances to its local chapters across the country.

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