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NEWS | April 24, 2024

Building Resilience: Typhoon-hit Community Receives Lifesaving Training from AFP, US

By 2nd Lt. James Estillore, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific

 

In a concerted effort to enhance disaster preparedness following the aftermath of Typhoon Egay in 2023, joint service members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and U.S. Armed Forces assembled at the Davila Barangay Hall on April 21, 2024, to provide lifesaving training to residents of Barangay Davila, Pasuquin, Ilocos Nortes, Philippines, as a pre-Exercise Balikatan 2024 community health engagement.

The devastating impact of Typhoon Egay, which struck the region last July, underscores the urgent need for communities to be equipped with the necessary skills to respond effectively to natural disasters.

The province of Ilocos Norte declared a state of calamity due to severe flooding and strong winds, leaving more than 2,000 families displaced. A power blackout hit the town of Pasuquin when Egay toppled a piling crane at the Baldi Bridge, leading to a 69-kilovolt power transmission line crash. Ilocos Norte recorded the highest agricultural damage, totaling a $11.3 million hit to 14,016 local farmers. Typhoon Egay left the country on July 28, 2023, taking the lives of 29 Filipinos.

AFP Nurse Corps Capt. Edwin Virtucio, a flight nurse and lead instructor, emphasized the necessity of the training. “All people should know how to give first aid,” Virtucio said. “This training is not just essential for medical personnel, but it’s also important for the lay people here in Ilocos Norte.”

During the comprehensive training day, a diverse group of 36 participants received instruction in basic life support and tactical combat casualty care. Local healthcare workers and Barangay Davila’s council members and citizens attended, as well as uniformed AFP Marines from Marine Battalion Landing Team 8 and AFP coast guardsmen from Coast Guard Station Sub-Station Pasuquin. Skills learned included CPR, airway maneuvers, tourniquet application, blood sweeps and treatments for shock, head injuries and hypothermia. The event concluded with participants conducting guided practical applications.

The collaborative training highlights the crucial role of partnership in effective disaster response. By working together, government agencies, local residents and military personnel can leverage their respective strengths and resources to ensure a coordinated approach to save lives and mitigate the impact of natural disasters on the community.

“We are creating force multipliers,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Nicholas Forster-Curnew, medical technician and instructor. “The trainees can help any federal aid that comes in to respond to natural disasters.”

Participants lauded the initiative, citing the practical knowledge gained and the sense of empowerment it provided. “This is a big help for us,” said Edgar Alcaraz, the kagawad, or councilor, of Barangay Davila. “We have so much knowledge that [the instructors] have given us if a disaster comes to this place.”

As Pasuquin continues its recovery efforts and looks toward building greater resilience in the face of future disasters, initiatives like this serve as a beacon of hope. By investing in training and fostering collaboration between military, government and civilian entities, communities can better protect themselves and save lives in times of crisis.

The Barangay Davila community health engagement was executed by Balikatan’s Combined Joint Civil-Military Operations Task Force, requiring eight months of bilateral and joint planning. Balikatan is a Tagalog term that means “shoulder-to-shoulder” or “sharing the load together,” which characterizes the spirit of the annual exercise and the alliance between the Philippines and the United States.

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