SAN AGUSTIN, Pili, Camarines Sur---“Every one of us has the capability to save lives including our own when prepared and equipped with skills.”

This was the message of Atty. Rodolfo Bismonte, the acting Pili Municipal Disaster Risk- Reduction Management Officer during the nationwide simultaneous Earthquake and Fire Drills of the Department of Agriculture in Bicol on March 31, 2017 at the DA grounds here.

According to Dr. Salvadora M. Gavino, the drill was aimed to prepare and gauge the efficiency of warning dissemination and level of preparedness of offices and surrounding communities when actual earthquake and fire occur.


This is the fourth time that the said drills were held.

According to SFO1 Dario L. Panerio, the earthquake drill is part of the mind-conditioning of the employees in case the “Big One” or the 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit the country.

Presently, the DA has an evacuation plan with identified Place of Running Points (PRPs) posted in conspicuous places of the office premises so that employees are guided where to assemble during earthquake.

Since there are no early warning devices for earthquakes, the employees should be alert, have presence of mind and avoid panic.

Panerio also said that the alarm system should be centralized. Once the alarm system is set for a minute, the response---“duck, cover and hold” should be quick and in two-three minutes, should leave the building. During evacuation, the employees should immediately go to an open space and away from danger zones like trees and glass windows.

DA 5 Rescue Team member John D. Labatorio suggested that emergency teams should be properly trained, have the commitment to serve and the office should have the necessary equipment needed during fire and earthquake.

There is a difference in the conduct of earthquake drill and fire drill. In an earthquake drill, the sound of siren/bell indicates that a strong shaking is ongoing and the level of ground shaking prevents people to stand and move around. So, no one is supposed to get out of the building while the shaking is ongoing.

In a fire drill, the siren/bell means a fire is ongoing. All occupants of the building should evacuate the building immediately.

A firefighting demonstration using a fire extinguisher was also conducted on same day because there is a risk of fire during an earthquake caused by broken gas pipes, electrical wirings, and kitchen stoves.

Buildings were marked with directions as to where to exit during these disasters.

“If the fire is not manageable, call the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP),” said Panerio.

Assistant MDRRMO Edilberto Bongon suggested that the office should conduct Disaster Awareness, First Aid Training and Basic Life Support Seminar to all employees.

The earthquake and fire drill were conducted jointly by the Pili MDRRMO, BFP, Philippine National Police, and the Philippine Army 9th Infantry Division. The Pili MDRRMO ambulance and fire truck were actually used for demonstration during the drill---the first in four years of the conduct of drills!

The DA 5 got a satisfactory rating. (jaysonmgonzales with photos by jun adversario and mitoy privaldos)