All-female team of disaster response volunteers formed
COTABATO CITY—An all-female team of volunteers has been formed and trained here as the main operational unit of the city’s Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, officials said.
Mayor Japal Guiani Jr. said members of All-Lady Emergency Response Team (Alert) would respond to emergency situations and move disaster victims to safety for first aid and hospital treatment.
The idea of training women volunteers not just as paramedics but also as disaster responders came about from the own experience of the former city administrator, Cynthia Sayadi, as a survivor of a roadside bomb attack here on Aug. 5, 2013. Eight people were killed in the powerful blast, which also burnt a funeral building nearby.
Sayadi was wounded but was able to video the event right after the blast while her female companions in the car were screaming for help.
“I was in that situation of injury … and even my male relatives escorting me would hesitate to carry me to safety because of the conservative Muslim culture even among males when it comes to touching women,” she told the Inquirer.
“And so we thought of organizing and training an all-female emergency team, with that precise acronym—Alert,” Sayadi said.
Guiani said city residents born during the early years of martial law had also experienced the 7.9-magnitude earthquake and tsunami on Aug. 17, 1976. More than 3,000 were killed in this city and on its outskirts.
“Having experienced all those disasters, we thought it’s about time we came up with innovative ways at preparedness, and expand women volunteerism from paramedics to actual physical work during disasters, such as carrying women and children victims to safety and to first aid and hospital treatment,” the mayor said.
Dr. Jane Montanier, the deputy city health chief who heads Alert, said the training of the women members had been expanded in simulation exercises from performing the tasks of paramedics to physical rescue work during emergency situations.
“Aside from working with the barangay leaderships and the police, getting into a zero incidence of kidnapping, since mid-2010, we value much the potential role of women in the economic employment trust in restoring the confidence of business investors,” Guiani said.
New business ventures, such as the five new shopping malls, have employed 98 percent of the local residents, about half of them women, the mayor claimed.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.