City dad calls for enhancement of barangays’ emergency response capabilities
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Cebu City Councilor Jose Lorenzo Abellanosa has called for an assessment and reinforcement of ambulances and emergency equipment in barangays.
The councilor, who delivered a privilege speech during the city council’s regular session on Wednesday, December 7, 2022, took on the plight of an old man who collapsed last December 1 in front of the junction of the traffic light of corner P. del Rosario Street and Leon Kilat Street, but was allegedly refused aid by a staff of the nearby Barangay Kalubihan.
The Council’s session on Wednesday was also streamed live on Facebook.
Two students of the Asian College of Technology, he said, ran to the aid of the old man and sought help from the barangay, but instead of calling emergency responders, the staff allegedly told the students “Ay katong tiguwang ‘day nga naa sa gawas galingkod? Hala, og manawag mi og ambulance, naa ra bay bayad. Unya wala mi kabalo kinsa ang tagtungod ana niya,” the councilor quoted the staff.
“The students, sensing that no help was going to be offered, went back to the site, and with the help of our students they brought the old man to the lobby of the said school. It was there that the head of the security of the ACT called for the medical assistance and the caregiving students applied basic medical support and then minutes later, medics arrived and attended to the old man,” he told the council.
“This is a wake up call to the harsh reality hounding our barangays, of how ill equipped they are in responding to alarms and emergencies, such as in the incident that I just mentioned,” he added.
‘Plain transport vehicles’
Abellanosa said that of the 80 barangays in Cebu City, only 25 have ambulances.
He added that only a “handful” of them have the required personnel and equipment to address emergency situations.
Owing to the lack of personnel and equipment, a lot of these ambulances, he said, are just made as “plain transport vehicles” of patients.
“We are now in the process of tackling the budget. It might as be wise for us to consider and reflect on this incident as we tackle our budget. It must be wiser for us to appropriate, realign, or augment a budget for the improvement and enhancement of the emergency response capabilities of our barangays,” he told the council.
While the council agreed with Abellanosa’s motions, some councilors, particularly Councilor Joel Garganera, also noted that what happened was a matter of “connectivity.”
Garganera said that even during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the barangays have all the emergency response hotlines.
He said that with the city having its own challenges, not all barangays have ambulances; however, the city is divided into clusters to ensure that response is available wherever and whenever there is a need for it.
“I think the problem there is wala lang mahibawo ang…ang nahingtungdan lang nga napangutan-an, wala lang tingali mamayo og tubag ug guide,” he told the council.
Meanwhile, Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) President and Councilor Franklyn Ong said not all barangays have parking space; so, not all barangays have ambulances. He also noted that not all barangays can afford ambulance personnel.
He said he agree with Abellanosa that the city, maybe, can do something to help even in the honorarium for barangay ambulance personnel.
Wake up call
Councilor Jocelyn Pesquera, for her part, said the council also needs to hear from the barangays on how they handle emergency situations.
“I am wondering as to how come the barangay was not able to respond immediately because of the 80 barangays in the city, Barangay Kalubihan is one of those with complete CCTV. Even during Sinulog, we have been utilizing their CCTVs to monitor areas within their jurisdiction and I believe we will also need to hear from them how they handle situations like this, especially that it happened in their barangay and they have CCTV cameras,” the councilor said.
Councilor Philip Zafra also said that the incident should also serves as a wake up call for barangay captains to train their staff as first responders and an information drive of the emergency hotlines for ambulances and hospitals would be needed.
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