Smart Communications recently brought the TNT Tropang Ready Disaster Preparedness Caravan to the University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines in Cagayan de Oro City (USTP-CDO) to educate and equip students with the skills necessary when responding to natural and man-made calamities.
Only last month, Cagayan de Oro was placed under state of calamity following nonstop rains that caused extensive flooding in the city. Thousands were stranded in schools and malls due to flood waters that reached waist-to-neck-deep levels. In some barangays, residents were advised to evacuate and power supply had to be interrupted. Over 1,000 families, or more than 6,000 individuals in the province of Misamis Oriental were affected with 7 casualties reported.
The TNT Tropang Ready Disaster Preparedness Caravan features discussions and workshops by emergency risk reduction and management experts from government and non-government agencies, as well as interactive games and booths to further enhance the interests of the participants.
The program teaches students how to apply the various safety and survival measures during calamities such as typhoons, floods, tsunamis, storm surges, earthquake and landslides, and increase their capability to prepare for and manage impact during and quickly recover from disasters.
“Students know that they need to learn certain subjects and that at certain points in time, they will be given exams. But there are also surprise quizzes,” said Darwin Flores, Smart Department Head for Community Partnerships. “The best way to prepare for surprise quizzes is to prepare ahead of time.”
A disaster preparedness caravan geared toward families and communities called “Pamilyang Ready, Pamilyang Panalo” was held in Cagayan de Oro following the December 2011 onslaught of typhoon “Sendong” in Mindanao.
After holding a series of Pamilyang Ready learning sessions all over the country, we looked at other sectors that could propagate the idea of readiness. Because students and the youth are mobile members of our society, they’re very receptive to learning , they are better equipped to do that,” he said.
He added that the long-term plan was to incorporate disaster preparedness in the school curriculum through the National Service Training Program (NSTP). “We (want) to utilize that mechanism in schools so that students can spread the message in their communities. Tropang Ready is just the start.”
“The activity focuses on teaching students how to prepare for disasters in a ‘foundation day’-type setting,” said Wawa Dumaguita, extension and community relations director of USTP-CDO, formerly Mindanao University of Science and Technology. “This is very important for them to learn because if they have the knowledge, they won’t panic and they will be safe.”
Smart Communications, through its value brand TNT, seeks to promote the culture of preparedness among the youth by bringing its Tropang Ready Disaster Preparedness Caravan to schools nationwide. This is the latest enhancement of Smart’s disaster preparedness caravan launched in 2013 to help communities, families and individuals in high-risk areas prepare for emergencies and disasters through engaging workshops and activities.
Leader in disaster preparedness
Smart Communications, the wireless unit f PLDT, aims to provide enhanced communications support during calamities and help build more resilient communities as it reinforces its role in reducing disaster risk through its #SafePH campaign.
Last year, Smart’s ICT Bayanihan series of disaster communication conferences was cited as an innovative program by the GSM Association (GSMA), which represents 800 operators and 300 mobile companies worldwide.
Smart also received recognition from the Office of Civil Defense-Cordillera for its disaster risk reduction management and humanitarian assistance to the region during the October 2016 onslaught of Super Typhoon “Lawin.”
As part of its effort to better prepare communities in times of calamity, Smart rolled out in December 2016 its P400-million cell broadcast service technology, which would bolster the nationwide emergency alert system of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).
Also last year, Batingaw, the disaster management mobile application launched in 2014 by OCD-NDRRMC and Smart, was tapped as a tool for building resilience in the Horn of Africa. Batingaw provides immediate access to warnings, advisories, location data and disaster mappings and features step-by-step instructions that can guide users to safety during calamities and allows them to contribute information to emergency agencies faster.
The “Maging Laging Handa” series of educational videos, meanwhile, is designed for children, who are most vulnerable during disasters.
These disaster-preparedness videos, which are integrated in the disaster risk reduction curriculum of elementary students, have been verified by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa), Phivolcs, and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
With its enhanced communications support for disaster response efforts, Smart has also provided free calls and charging services to communities affected by disasters. When Super typhoon “Yolanda” hit the Philippines in 2013, Smart’s satellite services connected Tacloban and other affected areas to the rest of the world.