By Leilani S. Junio
MANILA, June 3 (PNA)– The Philippine Red Cross (PRC), with its strong experience in handling disasters and emergencies, is now preparing its logistics and personnel to respond to a mass casualty incident that could result from a strong earthquake that may possibly occur.
The PRC preparation was in the wake of recent earthquakes in Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Northern Mid-Atlantic Range, Japan, and other parts of the world, and serious warnings from experts about active fault lines in the country, particularly in Metro Manila and adjoining provinces.
As part of the preparation for an earthquake hitting Metro Manila, the PRC has mapped out a plan that would mobilize the organization’s network of Red Cross 143 volunteers nationwide, trained personnel, and its logistics and assets to respond in case of a mass casualty incident that could result from a strong tremor.
According to the Metro Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction Study, a 7.2 magnitude quake in Metro Manila could cause 33,500 deaths and 114,000 injuries from the tremor itself and additional 18,000 deaths from the fire that could break out.
“The Red Cross is prepared to mobilize its assets and volunteers in providing first aid to the injured. Every week we have 25 first aiders that we train and can be mobilized in cases of mass casualty incidents like an earthquake,” said PRC chairman Richard J. Gordon.
Gordon added that in NCR alone, at the start of the year up to this month, an estimated 6,300 first aiders can be deploy in various areas in Metro Manila where first aid assistance would be needed in case that “big one” happened.
To date, there are more than 27,000 volunteer Red Cross first aiders nationwide.
With the estimated 14,000 injuries that could result from a strong earthquake, hospitals and other health facilities could be overwhelmed by the number of patients, or could be damaged by the tremor as well and would not be able to handle the injured and sick.
“This is where the emergency field hospitals (EFH) would come in. Patients who could no longer be accommodated in the hospitals or those who are too far from the hospitals and requiring only minor surgical procedures could be brought to the EFH instead because they are equipped with the necessary facilities and personnel,” said Gordon.
With a 70-bed capacity, the field hospital is equipped with medicines and medical supplies, base and portable radios, mass casualty incident (MCI) kit, cadaver bags, AED, an ER setup with oxygen, pulse oximeter, ECG machines, and a standby ambulance.
It also has an X-ray machine, water bladder with tap stand, water tanker, drinking station, tents for transit accommodation for staff, portalets, and a hot meal vehicle.
The PRC also recently signed memorandums of agreement with the Makati Medical Center and the Philippine Nurses Association (PNA) to ensure that there will be sufficient field personnel, both doctors and nurses, to man the emergency field hospitals. (PNA)