Legarda calls for monthly fire, quake drills

March 21, 2014

Hospitals and schools should conduct monthly fire and earthquake drills in preparation for disaster occurrences, Senator Loren Legarda reiterated on Friday.

Legarda, chair of the Senate Committees on Climate Change and Environment, stressed that educational and healthcare institutions must be prepared in the event of an earthquake or fire.

“When an earthquake occurs and a fire ensues, would our kids know what to do and where to go? Would the teachers and school staff know how to keep the children calm and guide them to safety?” Legarda pointed out.

“They would not know unless they undergo safety drills like the earthquake drill conducted by the NDRRMC. What I am proposing is to do these drills every month in educational and medical establishments, such as hospitals and schools,” said the senator who is also UN Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation for Asia-Pacific.

Legarda made the call following the First Quarter Nationwide Simultaneous Earthquake drill spearheaded by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) on March 19 in selected schools in every region.

The senator insisted that the regular conduct of fire and earthquake drills would effectively instill disaster preparedness among the citizens.

“Schools and health facilities, aside from being shelter for the vulnerable—children, sick and elderly, are critical public infrastructures, especially in times of disaster when victims need emergency refuge, services and medical care. Therefore, schools and hospitals should be disaster-resilient,” Legarda said.

Legarda had earlier filed Senate Bill No. 357, or the Preparedness in Buildings during Fire, Earthquake and other Hazardous Phenomena Act.

Under the bill, schools and other educational establishments, hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, orphanages and other buildings or structures used for the care of or occupied by the sick, infirm, or disabled are mandated to conduct monthly emergency drills.

The bill also proposes the conduct of emergency drills in school buses and other vehicles for transporting school children at least twice every school year.

The training should include practice and instruction concerning the location, use and operation of emergency exits, fire escapes, doors and fire extinguishers and other facilities provided for such purpose in buildings as well as the proper evacuation of buildings by persons in the event of fires, earthquakes and other hazardous phenomena.

Apart from conducting safety drills in schools and hospitals, the government and building owners are also required to ensure the structural integrity of these buildings.

Source: Manila Bulletin