“Service is not doing what’s required of us,
service is doing more than what’s required of us.”
The Philippines is in fact the country most exposed totropical storms in the world. It has suffered from exhaustible number of deadlytyphoons, earthquakes, volcano eruptions and other natural disasters. This isdue to its location along the Ring of Fire, or typhoon belt. That is whyFilipinos are no strangers to weather upsets.
On 12 September 2018, anothertyphoon Ompong (international name “Mangkhut”) entered the northern Philippinearea of responsibility and it was barrelling across the Pacific with winds of205 kph, and gusts reached 255kph. The state weather service said that heavyrains and strong winds were expected as it landed the north and central Luzon.Storm surges of up to seven meters were expected to hit coastal areas, whileheavy rains could trigger flash floods and landslides. It caused an alarmingsituation to the constituents of Dilasag as it also faced the open sea andsurrounded with different rivers and mountains that would most likely causeisolation. As typhoon Ompong went through the land, it moved closer to theprovince.
Heightenedalert status (Code Red) was ordered by the Bureau of Fire Protection todifferent station units. All personnel must be present and alert before, duringand after the typhoon. Right after the order, Municipal Fire Marshal SFO2Dexter G Reyes rushed to Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Councilfor coordination and called for a meeting. The conference was participated bythe Bureau of Fire Protection, MDRRMO Roy B Sahagun, SINSP MARCIANO BUENCAMINOof Dilasag PNP, representatives from Philippine Army, Philippine Coastguard,Head of Offices and Brgy Captains and Officials. Topics carried out wererelative to the available means such as manpower, vehicle, clearing operationequipment, evacuation sites, and midwife and Barangay Health workers assignedin first aid if necessary. It was also advised that all owners of fishing boatsshould secure their own. Populaces near the coastal extents, low lying areasand flood prone areas were guided for preventive evacuation to their designatedevacuation sites. This was one of the phases of disaster preparedness. It hasbeen done to reduce the effect of disaster, mitigate their impact on vulnerablepopulations, and respond to and effectively cope with their consequences.
Aspart of our team’s preparation for the typhoon Ompong, personnel of Dilasag FSaccounted all necessary equipment for rescue manoeuvre. All throughout 13thand 14th of September 2018 headed by the diligent Local ChiefExecutive Joe P. Gorospe, personnel of Dilasag Fire Station conducted PublicAddress or “Bandliyo” within area of responsibility. This was to notify thecommunity to precede to designated evacuation sites first and foremost thosefamilies living the coastal and low lands. Along with the public advises werethe preparations of food and clothing of all the families, continuous updatesof typhoon from their radios and cellular phones. Aside from public address,personnel of Dilasag FS conducted situation monitoring relative to the weatherconditions, sea water level rising, gathering data from the Municipal SocialWelfare and Development relative to the numbers of evacuees and untowardincidents. Our team also assisted in the repacking and distribution of reliefgoods to the barangays, and until night assisted in the food giving assistancefor the evacuees.
Astime passed by, several constituents were advised for a force evacuationbecause of the situation. Blitz of typhoon was experienced throughout the land.Rumbling of winds and strong rains dropped and stroked in every roof. It wasindeed a sleepless night, a night when everybody was awake and wanted towitness the typhoon rage. But it was not the typhoon rage that troubled me butthe faces of innocent children that connotes frightened minds. This scenariodriven my strength of mind to be valiant given them smile that reminded them tohave courage and that everything will be fine soon. Then a sudden voice spokenfrom corner, one of the evacuees told one of my comrades, “Sir, be carefulalways. Who will be saving us if not you who can we rely on?” This startled me,as I started to reminisce one of our tactical officers once told us…”Safetyfirst! Don’t reckon yourselves to the casualty.” My presence turned back as Ilooked out and saw the light yet, it was raining still.
Itwas 15 1000H September 2018, when the Local Chief Executive announced that itwas already safe for the evacuees to return home. Personnel of Dilasag FireStation initiated the road clearing operation even it was still raining.Accompanied with fire truck, personnel of Dilasag Fire Station also conductedroving and fire truck visibility. No casualty was recorded.
Thepreparation and response done by different agencies before, during and afterthe typhoon implies leadership and camaraderie among the constituents ofDilasag making it a disaster resilient community. The spirit of camaraderie waswitnessed wherein in mostpeople extend hand without expecting remuneration.
Beinguniformed personnel is not just giving your service to the community but doingit more than what service is required. It was indeed a service we can be proudof. Rendering duty away from family is such a great sacrifice. A greatsacrifice we could consider heroism. The urge to help the community is like afire burning inside every fire fighter to keep them safe.