After spending 17 days at ground zero: Cebu City rescuers share grilled pork

By: Rosalie O. Abatayo October 07,2018 - 11:27 PM


Cebu City emergency responders enjoy their first dinner after they left ground zero in Naga City.

After spending 17 gruesome days at ground zero in Naga City, Cebu City rescuers took a break Saturday night to enjoy each others company, grilled pork and fresh air at the Sugbu Building grounds at the South Road Properties (SRP).

Nagiel Bañacia said that his team had been wanting to eat something else after they were limited to eating canned goods and fastfood while working day and night at the landslide area in Sitio Sindulan in Barangay Tinaan.

“Ang among kaon-kaon gahapon was just to wind up kay pareho mi tanan nga walay tulog. Pag buntag kaon mi og canned goods. Mga 3 p.m. nakapaniudto mi og fastfood ug pag-uli nagkaon mig barbecue (Our gathering yesterday was done to wind up (our 17 days of work) because all of us have not had enough sleep. On Saturday morning, we had canned goods. At around 3 p.m., we had fastfood for lunch and before we finally head home, we had barbecue (for dinner),” Bañacia told Cebu Daily News.

The Cebu City government sent around 140 personnel to Naga City since the landslide happened on September 20.
Bañacia said that 40 of them coming from the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (CDRRMO) were engaged in search, rescue and retrieval (SRR) operations. The remaining 100 consisted of Department of Public Services (DPS) and City Health Office (CHO) personnel among others.

He said that doing SRR was not an easy task. They spent day and night at ground zero.

When they get tired, they sleep on the soil to recharge.

Bañacia said they are able to go home only to change their clothes and bathe after spending a day or two at ground zero.

One of their colleagues, medic Marlo Cortes, even celebrated his 36th birthday at ground zero on September 21.

Bañacia said that Cortes opted to cancel his leave then and spend his birthday trying to save the lives of those that may have been left trapped under the rubbles.

To celebrate his birthday, they shared canned goods and sliced bread for their snacks.

Early on Saturday morning, Cebu City rescuers joined the Mass and procession at ground zero. They later on participated in the Requiem Mass for 31 casualties in the Tinaan landslide.

While waiting for the 1 p.m. Mass to start, some opted to take a nap on church chairs to recharge.

On their way home, Bañacia said they decided to first gather at the Sugbu building grounds to share grilled pork for dinner.

Bañacia posted photos of their dinner on Facebook with the caption: “#time to pamper ourselves.”

He said that all emergency responders were made to undergo stress debriefing in Naga City before they were finally sent home to their families late afternoon of Saturday.

After they would have rested, Bañacia said he plans to again coordinate with Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO) head Baltazar Tribunalo for the conduct of a second stress debriefing for Cebu City volunteers.

Bañacia said that he was also planning another form of stress debriefing which is to come up with a journal to document the learnings, challenges and all the untold stories that they’ve had after spending 17 days at ground zero.

“We learn from the experience of others. The journal nga among buhaton will be the example that the next batch of responders may look upon and learn from,” Bañacia said.

Until their next stress debriefing is scheduled, Bañacia said they will report back to CDRRMO today to continue their mandate of ensuring disaster preparedness and mitigation in Cebu City.

“Mag-install mig warning signs sa landslide-prone areas sa city, (focus on) information, education and communication strategies. Balik na sad mi sa among mga trabaho nga prevention,” said Bañacia.

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