SUBIC BAY FREEPORT – Search and rescue operators from flood-prone areas in Zambales will be receiving training on swift-water rescue from members of the Hawaii National Guard, as part of this year’s Balikatan military exercise (BK13) between the Philippines and the United States.
The Hawaii National Guard and the CBRNE Emergency Response Package Team (CERP-T) will also conduct a joint field training exercise in the form of Urban Search and Rescue (USAR). This simulated disaster-response activity will be held on April 10-17 at the training facility here of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Fire Department.
To maximize the training opportunity, 32 rescue operators from flood-prone municipalities in Zambales were invited to join the classroom training on swift-water rescue, said SBMA fire chief Ranny Magno. Aside from swift-water rescue, the field training will focus on disaster-response scenarios on collapsed structure search and rescue (CSSR) utilizing the SBMA CSSR training facility.
The rescue training will be held while the annual RP-US Balikatan Military Exercise runs from April 5 to 17 in various places in Central Luzon, particularly in the provinces of Zambales, Tarlac and Nueva Ecija. SBMA Chairman Roberto Garcia said the rescue training would serve as a very timely preparation for the coming rainy season.
“Readiness and high response capability are the very key to effective disaster-response in areas hit by floods and other calamities to avoid loss of lives,” Garcia said. He added that the SBMA Emergency and Rescue Team (SERT) has been enhancing its skills through trainings because of its commitment to provide search and rescue assistance in various emergency situations in the community.
More than 8,000 Filipino and American military personnel, complemented by 30 military aircraft, the US Navy ship USS Tortuga, and two Philippine Navy ships, will be participating in this year’s Balikatan training activity.
The primary objective of the USAR is to reinforce the humanitarian assistance and disaster-response capacity of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), said AFP USAR planner Commander Antonio Alexis Manuel Jr. Manuel said the activity also aims to improve the capacity for joint and combined inter-operability and disaster-response readiness between the AFP and US Armed Forces.
To make the training realistic, AFP included emergency responders from AFP’s Northern Luzon Command, AFP rescue teams, Philippine National Red Cross emergency rescue unit, and the SBMA Fire and Rescue Team as training audience and participants.