Emergency team expands scope to save more lives

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

WHEN volunteers of the Basak Pardo Emergency Rescue (BPER) get on their ambulance, they have only thing in mind: to save lives as swiftly as possible.

They consider themselves as ordinary citizens who are lucky to have the chance to help the community.

But for those whose lives and properties they saved, the BPER personnel are everyday heroes they can count on any time.


BPER was first established as an emergency response team of Barangay Basak Pardo in 2007, when City Councilor Dave Tumulak was still the barangay captain.

It had only one mobile patrol multicab, which doubled as an ambulance manned by the barangay tanods and barangay hall workers.

A year later, it started responding to vehicular accidents, fires, and other disasters and emergencies outside Basak Pardo, helping victims from as far as Toledo City, Talisay City and neighboring towns.

They also respond to medical situations, such as ailing people who need to be transported to hospitals.

“Mapobre or madato, basta magkinahanglan sa among tabang amo gyud adtoon (We will help everyone, whether rich or poor). Some are hesitant to call us when they need to be taken to the hospital because they expect that they have to pay us, but wala gyu’y bayad (they don’t have to pay anything). This is pure public service,” said Vil Anthony Dacalos, a nurse.

Always ready

He is one of BPER’s 32 personnel, most of whom are residents of Basak Pardo.

Today, which is observed throughout the country as Araw ng Kagitingan, all BPER personnel will be on call to respond to any emergency situation that tropical depression Domeng may cause.

Now on its seventh year of operations, BPER is already equipped with five ambulances, a diagnostics van and command center beside the barangay hall.

It is also linked to the Cebu City Government’s command center, where all requests for emergency response and rescue are relayed via hotline 166.

“Ang mga pobre gyud ang nakapahimos sa among serbisyo sa BPER (It’s the poor who benefit the most from BPER’s services). It gets 500 emergency calls a month. If these calls had not been answered, how many deaths would there have been?” said Tumulak, who still oversees the operations of BPER.

Although they recently started getting financial assistance from City Hall, Tumulak still often digs into his own pockets to buy supplies, like he did in the past.


But the city official does not mind, especially after seeing how BPER has grown into a bigger rescue team, helping more and more people each year.

“Libre ang serbisyo mao ng malipay gyud ang mga tawo. Gawas ana, nakita nako na ang mga pobre na makasud sa ambulance na aircon unya tawagon sila og Ma’am or Sir, murag dali sila maulian. Gaan kaayo ilang paminaw na bisag pobre kaayo sila, naa gihapon ang government nagpaluyo ug andam mutabang nila (The people appreciate the free services and the dignified treatment. It makes them feel better to see that government is always ready to help them),” Tumulak added.

For Cristalette Labang, 24, the most fulfilling part of their work is being able to help the sick in their barangay, who often have no money for treatment in hospitals.

With the risks and challenges of the job, Clyde Alaan, 23, said she has to be alert and careful with every patient she handles.

“We are the first responders, kami gyud ang una makagunit sa biktima. Syempre ikaw ang una nga nakatabang, malipay gyud ka na naluwas ilang kinabuhi (It gives us joy to know that we had the chance to help first and that we saved lives),” she said.


Compassion for the poor drives her to continue serving BPER, she shared.

She recalled how they responded to the bus accident in Toledo City in 2012, where seven were killed and 33 others were injured.

BPER helped transport passengers from the Toledo City hospital to hospitals in Cebu City.

It was her toughest shift, Alaan recalled, but she took comfort in the possibility that she may have helped save the passengers’ lives.

Labang and Alaan, who are both nurses, said others may consider their work an act of valor, but for them, it is their duty and contribution to society to help those in need.

The public’s appreciation of BPER’s services was evident yesterday when its personnel went around the city, checking on the damage that a tornado left.

“Salamat kay naa gyud mo, maibot na gyud ning punoan (Thank you for being here and for removing this tree right away),” said a resident, whose driveway was blocked by a fallen tree.

Everywhere they went yesterday, residents welcomed their presence as if their lives depended on them. And in some cases, it does.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 09, 2014.

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