By Jelliffe Louise S. Dava
Are children and persons with disability (PWD) prepared for emergencies and natural disasters?
SM Cares, the CSR arm of SM Prime Holdings, has chosen to focus on teaching emergency preparedness to these special sectors, holding its 4th Emergency Preparedness Forum for children and youth with disabilities.
About 600 participants from various PWD organizations and learning institutions attended the forum held last July 9 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.
The sessions were conducted to educate and prepare the parents and their children with disabilities including those who are blind, hearing impaired, with physical impairment, with Down syndrome and autism to survive natural disasters such as an earthquake.
Engr. Bien C Mateo, director of the SM Cares Program on Persons with Disabilities, observed that although there were many training workshops on disaster preparedness, children with disabilities are not given special attention leaving them unprepared for emergencies.
With its belief that no one should be left behind, SM’s forum provided information on possible scenarios should the “Big One” (magnitude 7.2 earthquake) happen in Metro Manila. The exercises also taught the participants to prepare for other calamities such as floods and typhoons.
Forum speakers included Dr. Renato Solidum, Jr., Undersecretary for Disaster Risk Reduction of Department of Science and Technology (DOST), and emergency and survival expert, Dr. Ted Esguerra of the International Disaster Response Network.
Solidum lectured on the risks and dangers of “The Big One” in Metro Manila. He also taught the standard procedures on how to act when the calamity strikes.
Dr. Esguerra demonstrated various practical ways to react to extraordinary situations during an earthquake. He also taught how to administer first aid on oneself and to others and encouraged the use of what he called “Emergency Imagination” to survive an earthquake and other calamities.
Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), who also supported the forum, invited participants with disabilities to perform the “Duck, Cover, Hold” and have a closer experience with an earthquake of varying intensities through its mobile earthquake simulator.
At the forum, PHIVOLCS announced that it had completed a new app to locate the nearest fault in one’s area.
SM Cares Engr. Bien C Mateo said that SM will continue to conduct this kind of forum as their way of supporting the communities, especially where SM is present.