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Search and Rescue/Retrieval Operations

S u p e r t y p h o o n R e m in g s t ru c k t h e P r o v in c e o f A l b a y
e a r l y mo r n in g o f N o v e m b e r 3 0 , 2 0 0 6 . I t wh i p p e d w i t h
c e n t e r w in d s o v e r 2 6 0 k p h w in d s w i t h a ra d i u s o f mo r e
t h a n 2 5 0 k m . Th e ma s s i v e ra i n f a l l t h a t c a m e w i t h i t
measured at 480 mm within 12 hours is an equivalent
of 40 years of rainfall. It caused the lava collected
a l o n g t h e s i d e s o f t h e Ma y o n d u r in g s e v e ra l m o n t h s o f
v o l c a n i c e ru p t io n t o r u s h d o w n w i t h t h e f l o o d in t h e
form of mud, sand, and boulders, burying scores of
v i l l a g e s a n d t o w n s a n d t h e i r p e o p l e , h o u s e s , p ro p e r t y ,
a n d f ie l d s .

RRMI/RRPI spearheaded a seven-day search and rescue/retrieval The team then trained their efforts to Rawis, Legazpi City on Dec. 4,
operations in the towns of Daraga, Guinobatan, Legaspi and Sto. 2006 where a portion of village community was swallowed by the river.
Domingo a day after typhoon Reming. Missing students were believed to be buried under the sand and boul-
ders. A reinforcement of 10 employees of RRMI/RRPI also arrived in
It is a mission different from the miner’s usual activities but it will surely Legaspi on that day.
be engraved in the history of the company, its host province and in
the minds of Albayanos. Meanwhile, member companies of Philip-
pine Mine Safety and Environment Associa-
A day after the typhoon, RRMI/RRPI managers assembled a
tion (PMSEA) from across the country in-
search and rescue team composed of 20 engineers, machine and
cluding the contractors and service provid-
equipment operators from the Mining and Processing Departments.
ers of RRMI/RRPI also responded to the
They immediately left the camp site en route to the mainland seem-
disaster. Their aid and rescuers arrived at
ingly oblivious to what they’re leaving behind – a small city they
the base camp on the 4th of December.
considered as second home now transformed into almost a debris
by the typhoon. Holcim Cement sent a Medical/first aid
team of 15 members, 13 miners from Atlas
They were joined by 20-man team of Leighton
mining also arrived and 18 men from Ben-
Contractors Inc., an international contractor
guet mining. Regoron, a service provider of
working with RRMI/RRPI. The combined teams
RRMI/RRPI sent 12 rescuers, heavy equipments and service ve-
camped on a rented space on the ground floor
hicles which eased the operation’s mobility.
of MGB-V office in Bañag, Legaspi City.
These teams have been trained and are experienced in search
On Dec. 2, four military helicopters brought the
and rescue/retrieval operations. They have volunteered in similar
team to Guinobatan where they recovered a to-
post-disaster activities before.
tal of 84 bodies in three days
Operation Libreng Tubig Unumon

In response to a looming health crisis, RRMI/RRPI led the PMSEA
and Global Medic of Canada in deploying a Rapid Response Team
(RRT) comprised of a medical unit and a water sanitation unit to
the town of Daraga.
Global Medic is a Toronto-based NGO. The team under the leadership
of Rahul Singh arrived in Legaspi on Dec. 8.
It was already a week after the onslaught of Reming and several towns
in the province lost their water system and residents had no ready ac- Global Medic with the help of RRMI/RRPI personnel set up a central
cess to potable drinking water. water purification system using a Noah Nomad Water Purification sys-
tem in the covered basketball court of Daraga Park.
Traumatized and with weakened immune systems as many of the refu-
gees lost loved ones, almost all saw the destruction of their homes and The Nomad purifies water through using a sediment filter, followed by a
properties, and, huddled in schools and makeshift centers which serve carbon filter, and finally with an ultraviolet light. It can purify a total of
as evacuation centers. They become susceptible to trauma and dis- 144,000 liters per day. Post chlorination techniques were used to en-
eases, especially water-borne illnesses. Even those who opted to return sure water quality.
to their destroyed homes contend with the constant rain and lack of
Global Medic and RRMI/RRPI also established 5 mobile water distribu-
electric power and clean drinking water.
tion units. Using the Noah Trekker, rescue units and bladders targeted
On December 8, a week after the onslaught of the super typhoon, there hard to reach areas in order to ensure access to clean drinking water.
were 32 reported diarrhea cases in the city of Legaspi alone. Friends...P2
Vol. 1 No.20 THE NEWSWEEK Nov. 20 - Dec. 31, 2006

Global Medic also trained employees of RRMI/RRPI team in the deploy-
ment, use, and maintenance of the water facility.
A local Rapid Response Team (RRT) composed of RRMI/RRPI and
MGB-V personnel was formed and trained by Canadian Global From the firetrucks, the water is pumped to the
Medic RRT on Dec. 9, 2006. portable swimming pool. This is then pumped
through a series of filters, ultraviolet light and fi-
The hands-on training was conducted along with the actual purification nally dosed with aqua tabs. The purified water is
and distribution of water. The trainees quickly learned the techniques delivered to the communities in collapsible drums
and procedures of deployment, use and maintenance of the Nomad which is loaded in jeeps and trucks. There were
Water Purification Unit. five collapsible drums, each has the capacity of
1,000 liters. Back and forth, making three to six
The local RRT working trips a day, the teams were able to provide water
under the direction of to the 28 barangays of seven municipalities dur-
the PMSEA, would, in ing the whole period of the operation. Two station-
the aftermath of any ary water containers in Daraga park is filled with 7,000 liters everyday.
local, national, or Asian Purification tablets Aquatabs, were also distributed to ensure access to
disaster, use Global emergency drinking water.
Medic gear to respond
quickly to disasters. The local government health unit conducted a test early on in the opera-
Additional equipment tion to determine the quality of purified water and found that the purifica-
The NoahTM Nomad Water Purification Unit
and manpower would tion process eliminated all harmful water-borne elements.
be deployed by Canadian Global Medic as needed. Thus, not only will
the local RRT and equipment be used for the post-Reming and Seniang On the 15th of Dec., after accomplishing so much in a short period of
relief operations, it will also serve as a regional resource to be deployed time, the Global Medic Rapid Response Team left for Canada. RRMI/
to surrounding areas in the event of large scale catastrophe. RRPI team with the support of MGB-V took over the deployment of puri-
fied water.
In the meantime, the RRT led by RRMI/RRPI and MGB-V will be
training LGU-appointed RRT members to enable the LGUs to set up Everywhere, long lines tailed the vehicles carrying purified water. The
their own Water Distribution units that will continue the operation until people were so grateful for the Libreng Tubig Inumon. Some of them
such need has disappeared. offered lunch and snacks to the team members. Somebody in Daraga
also gives a pack biscuit to the team everyday as a sign of his gratitude.
The turn-over from PMSEA RRT to LGU-RRT is expected to take place But for the team, a smile or ’salamat’ is enough to enliven their tired
before the end of January 2007. Nevertheless, continuous monitoring bodies.
and assistance from PMSEA RRT will be made.
The people depended on the daily supply of water. When the team
stopped the operation for their brief Christmas break the people went to
the local health office where they affected a letter requesting the team
to deliver water. Just after Christmas day, the team went back to action,
RRMI/RRPI, being PMSEA’s lead agency in the region in partnership providing water until the 29th of December.
with MGB-V, was the host company providing food and accommoda-
tions to a total of 106 rescue personnel.
They served in the areas of
Guinobatan (Maipon, Inas-
can, San Francisco) Da-
raga (Culiat, Busay, Bu-
yuan, Binitayan), Legaspi
(Padang) and Sto. Do-
mingo (Lidong). The opera-
tion went on until the 9th of
December. A total of 97
bodies were recovered. 14
of which was claimed by
relatives and 83 were bur-
Only high tide can stop the digging ied in mass graves.
People can tell that the miners not only pulled the bodies of their loved
ones from the mud. Some miners gave up their food and water rations
for the people. And others went back to the base camp without their
shovel, without their water containers, without their flashlights and oth- From Dec 9 to Dec 29, over 288,533 liters of purified
ers things that they gave to the victims. drinking water and over 1.8 million Aquatabs were distributed
to over 28 areas in the munici- palities of Daraga, Camalig, Oas, Sto.
The miners will also long remember their experience, it will surely inten- Domingo, Guinobatan, Jovellar and in the city of Legaspi.
sify their concern for the welfare of the people.
Medicines and vitamins were distributed in Daraga Park during the op-
Saving lives, reuniting families, restoring properties, giving hope those eration. ShelMed Inc. also gave milk to the children who came along
who needed it most was the main reason why these miners responded with their parents to fetch water.
to the disaster. In unison they manifested a rare display of camaraderie.
RRMI/RRPI, a resident company of the province, has always been pre-
Behind the rescuer’s determination, stamina and courage is a sacrifice sent to extend assistance to the people of Albay and its neighboring
that only few would ever dare to bear. The rescuers of RRMI/RRPI also communities. With the facility of Global Medic, RRMI/RRPI was able to
lost their homes, their properties, and they are also worried about the provide free purified drinking water to an average of 8,000 people every-
plight of their families but they put their personal concerns aside for the day satisfying the daily requirement of 2 liters per person per day.
sake of others.
This endeavor could have not been achieved without the partnership of
Miners as ‘rescuers’ is definitely an understatement. They are heroes. RRMI/RRPI and Global Medic. It really pays to have friends abroad es-
pecially when there is trouble at home.

EDITORIAL BOARD Managing Editor: Cecille Calleja Bicol Trans-
lation; Roy Cervantes, Nelson Buenafe Production: Kay Orlina,
Mcken Belgica Circulation: Mcken Belgica, Nancy Alipar, CARE