By Johnny C. Nunez
LEGAZPI CITY (8-Aug-2012/PNA) – Albay’s popularly known disaster risk reduction “strike force”, Team Albay, a veteran of many disaster operations in the country, has been dispatched to assist victims of heavy floods in Metro Manila.
Albay Gov. Joey Salceda ordered Tuesday night the deployment of the 50-man Water Sanitation (WATSAN) and Albay Health Emergency Management (AHEM) team to Metro Manila to help in rescue and evacuation and provide potable drinking water and health assistance to flood victims. Together they comprise Team Albay.
The AHEM component of the team integrates the Office of Civil Defense-5 (OCD-5) Water Search and Rescue (WASAR) group. The WATSAN team has with it a tank and lorry and the now popular water filtration machine that can purify and produce 32,000 liters per hour of potable water from out of flood waters. It will be deployed and dispatched where the National Disaster Risk and Reduction Management Council orders it.
The water purifying machine had been the team’s principal armament. It was donated to Albay in 2009 by the Spanish government through the Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional Para el Desarrollo (AECID), the Spanish International Cooperation Agency for Development.
Team Albay is headed by the Provincial Health Office (PHO) deputy chief Nats Rempillo. Its staff includes personnel compliments from the Office of the Provincial Governor, PHO-9, Albay Provincial Safety and Emergency Management Office, Provincial Social Welfare Development, and Provincial Engineering Office. The WASAR is composed of 21, with a support staff of 10.
Salceda said the WATSAN team will provide drinking water while AHEM, the medical component, will be deployed in various hospitals to augment the medical personnel in seriously affected areas.
The OCD in Bicol, headed by Regional Director Bernardo Alejandro has been tasked to coordinate with local and national government agencies in Metro Manila. The team is now temporarily housed in Camp Aguinaldo.
Organized by Salceda in 2009, Team Albay had been to many mercy missions throughout the country, to provide humanitarian assistance and complement emergency response during disasters. Its latest assignment was in Catanduanes months ago, when the island province was stricken by cholera.
Team Albay had seen action in Guihulngan City last year where it provided potable water, evacuation management, emergency pre-hospital and preemptive public health care, and psychosocial assistance to earthquake victims.
It had been to disaster stricken areas in Isabela; Iloilo after Typhoon Frank; Bagong Silangan, Quezon City during Typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng; and in Cagayan de Oro after Sendong. Its members have all finished the Albay Health Emergency Management advanced course under the Albay Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
Team Albay’s personnel compliment include medical, water sanitation, camp management, psycho social and other disaster related management specialists. Its rescue component is composed of military and paramilitary personnel from the AFP and the Bureau of Fire Protection. (PNA)