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Proposed ordinance requiring standby emergency medical services in sports events gets support

By: Niña Mae C. Oliverio - Multimedia Reporter - CDN Digital | August 24,2023 - 10:05 AM

ordinance sports emergency services

Dr. Robert Cañete speaks before the councilors during a public hearing on Wednesday, August 23, 2023. | CDN File Photo by Niña Mae Oliverio

CEBU CITY, Philippines — A proposal requiring sports organizers to provide standby emergency medical services (EMS) and ambulance conducted within Cebu City received support during a public hearing on Wednesday, August 23, 2023.

According to the proposal’s proponent, Councilor Rey Gealon, he wants to ensure the safety of participants in any sporting event conducted within Cebu City.

He said during the public hearing on Wednesday, his proposal was conceptualized at a time when there was an incident that transpired in Cebu Cordova Link Expressway (CCLEX) last February 5, 2023 when a police officer died after he collapsed while joining a fun run.

“Though there were medical personnel present during the said event, and not having prevented such misfortune from happening, I did my best for all other sports competition, medical personnel and a standby ambulance must be at the vicinity of the competition premises,” he said.

The invited speaker, Dr. Robert Cañete, medical director of Radio Emergency Assistance Volunteer Organization (REVO), expressed his support for the proposal however with some concerns.


“The ordinance proposes a minimum of two ambulances. The two ambulances would be useful in an enclosed space, let’s say a mall or an activity that involves a hundred or two hundred meters conference, especially [if] there’s a medical unit within the event itself. That would be very nice,” Cañete said.

However, he said it becomes more complicated when the event has a “wider scope,” like a marathon or triathlon.

He added that there is an importance to monitor the condition of the participants throughout the whole route.

He expressed that “it is impossible” to put ambulances all throughout a 10-kilometer route.

To provide an example, he shared what REVO has been doing.

He said REVO puts ambulances “at strategic spots” and place emergency responders with radios between the ambulances either on foot or with a motorcycle to monitor the participants.

“If ever something happens, the emergency responder on foot, who is trained in first aid, is able to address the problem with the assistance of the doctor at the start line,” he said.

Moreover, he said that from his experience, about 90 percent of all incidents are minor in nature and can be attended on-site. Therefore, he said that it is best for the ambulance to be allotted for more serious incidents, which would require more manpower and logistics.

Cañete also added about the “bad experience” with hospitals.

“When a patient is brought to the emergency room, and the patient is attended to, the hospital does not release the ambulance immediately and tells the ambulance to wait until the patient has been addressed and that may take from 30 minutes to four hours,” he said.

With the said scenario, he said that the ambulance may be needed back to the activity site.

Indoor activities

During the public hearing, Councilor Jerry Guardo asked Gealon if indoor activities also required ambulances in the proposal.

Gealon said that they are included.

For events like mixed martial arts, which are sometimes conducted inside the malls, Gealon said that emergency personnel must be inside the event while the ambulance will be on standby outside the mall.

Guardo also expressed his concerns to the players of chess and pingpong that require no physical contact.

Gealon said that the proposal does not only involve the players.

“We are also participating, for example, stampede. Anything that is a convergence of people,” Gealon added.

He added that the sports competitions are usually venues where people converge.

For this matter, the invited speaker answered that the ambulance is not only for the benefit of the participants but to the spectators as well.


If the ordinance is approved, those who fail to comply with its mandate shall be penalized with one year imprisonment and a fine of P5,000.

If the offender is an entity, the manager, the president, and other responsible officers, they will be held liable.



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TAGS: Cebu City, Cebu City Council, emergency, health, ordinance

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