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P100,000 cash prize awaits winning team in Manila disaster response tilt

MANILA, Philippines–It’s like the “Amazing Race” but with a focus on saving lives.

For the first time in its history, the Manila city government will host a competition to test the lifesaving skills of disaster first responders and an international disaster preparedness and crisis management summit, aimed at developing a network of first responders who will be competent in handling any kind of disaster.

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Johnny Yu, head of the Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO), said the First Manila Rescue Marathon Challenge would be held on Oct. 10 to 12 in various historical sites in Manila, while the First Manila Disaster Preparedness and Crisis Management Conference would be held at the World Trade Center on Oct. 15 to 17.

“These programs are in connection with one of Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada’s 10-point agenda which is disaster preparedness. We are taking the lead in this activity in our hope [to] disseminate lifesaving information down to the barangays [which] are the true first responders in an incident,” Yu said in a press conference last week.

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A total of 20 teams are expected to participate in the Manila Rescue Marathon Challenge, which will feature challenges such as rescuing victims from steep angles, responding to medical emergencies and rescuing victims in water for the elimination and semi-final rounds. The 10 teams that will make it to the final day will be faced with a mystery challenge.

“The rescue marathon is like the Amazing Race. It will hit two birds with one stone: test the stamina and cooperation of all the teams while [fostering] friendships and networking with other rescue groups. After all, during times of disaster, we will most likely meet each other,” Yu said.

He added that the challenges were originally scheduled to take place in Corregidor Island for three straight days but were later moved to historic sites in the City of Manila so others could appreciate it.

Teams expected to join the competition come from Quezon City, Valenzuela City and as far as Tanay in Rizal.

“In the spirit of fairness, we at the MDRRMO will not join the competition. Also, the organizers who designed the challenges are not from Manila. And finally, the judges themselves are also not from Manila,” he said.

A P100,000 cash prize awaits the winner of the competition while the runners-up will be awarded P50,000 and P30,000, respectively.

The challenge is just a prelude to the Manila Disaster Preparedness and Crisis Management Conference which was organized with the need for better disaster preparedness and mitigation in mind, especially after the onslaught of Super Typhoon “Yolanda.”

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Speakers from the US Department of Defense are expected to give talks on chemical, biological, radiological and explosive weapons and terrorism, while Jessica Cox, the world’s first licensed armless pilot, will deliver a talk on how persons with disabilities can also be first responders.

“When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in the United States, and when Typhoon Yolanda hit the Visayas region, many of those who got killed or who were victims were disabled people. Jessica will show us how they could also be rescuers,” Yu said.

The conference will also feature an assessment of the impact of Yolanda and the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in 2011.

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TAGS: contest, Disaster preparedness, Disaster response, Johnny Yu, Manila, Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office
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