MM Teachers Boost Emergency Preparedness

Teachers and school disaster safety officers in Metro Manila recently enhanced their role as guardians of students by completing an emergency preparedness training initiated by PLDT wireless unit Smart Communications.

The “Gurong Ready, Gurong Panalo” activity, held at the Department of Education – National Capital Region headquarters, was part of the celebration of National Teachers’ Month. It was a continuation of the Tropang Ready disaster preparedness learning caravan organized by Smart through its brand TNT.

TNT Tropang Ready is part of Smart’s #SafePH advocacy, which promotes preparedness through mobile solutions and on-ground activities to help communities mitigate disaster risks.

“Teachers and school staff serve as the students’ guardians away from home. It is important then that they are equipped with the necessary skills to be able to lead their students to safety,” said Ramon R. Isberto, PLDT and Smart public affairs head.

Education Undersecretary Tonisito Umali noted that partnerships with the private sector help produce programs beneficial to the academe. “It is wonderful that the private sector is helping the DepEd develop initiatives to recognize and improve the skills of our teachers,” Umali said. “This training enables them to enhance their disaster preparedness knowledge, which they can share with their staff and students with their respective schools,” he added.

During the training, the participants learned emergency management tips, such as what to do when an earthquake, a fire, or a strong typhoon strikes.

Emergency Management Center’s Jonathan Palma demonstrated to the teachers how to conduct a proper “duck, cover and hold”: duck or drop to the floor in half-kneeling position; take cover under a sturdy piece of furniture or against a wall; and hold on to it until the shaking stops.

Palma showed them the contents of a “Go Bag,” a survival kit containing a flashlight, bottle of water, mobile phone, garbage bag, T-shirt, flashlight battery, and other essentials that could last up to 72 hours. He also taught the participants water filtration techniques and other practical survival tips.

To test the participants’ skills, escape game designers from Mystery Manila simulated a disaster situation where the school personnel had to apply their learnings to solve the puzzle and lead the “victims” to safety.

Elldher Nicolas of Tangos National High School said the training was beneficial for those like him who live in Navotas City, which is prone to flooding and storm surge. He recalled that in 2015, strong wind and rains due to monsoon or “habagat” dismantled the roof of one of their classrooms and damaged school property.

“We tried our best to save some of the computers from getting wet, but we couldn’t carry all of them. Plus evacuees were starting to come in. It was chaotic. That’s when I realized we should have a plan in cases of disasters,” Nicolas said.

“Teachers should know about disaster preparedness because we take care of children when they’re at school,” said Marulas Central School teacher Maribeth Fulo. She added that the learnings from the training could also be taught to parents of the students, since the school also served as an evacuation center.

“Based on our experience, especially during Typhoon ‘Ompong,’ we can teach the parents basic safety measures, such as preparing their own ‘go bags’ in case they need to evacuate,” she added.

The TNT Tropang Ready program recently won in the Community Engagement category at the prestigious Golden World Awards, which recognizes public relations practices that meet international standards of excellence.

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