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CAAP strengthens Tacloban airport’s emergency, disaster preparedness

TACLOBAN CITY (PIA) – Officials of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) discussed with the government agencies and stakeholders its plan to strengthen the emergency and disaster preparedness of the Daniel Z. Romualdez (DZR) airport.

Asher Ithamar B. Allunar, acting airport manager, said the purpose of the meeting was to establish an emergency response committee to handle aircraft incidents as they lack trained personnel and equipment to deal with such situations. 

Establishing the committee would provide them with enough workforce, equipment, and efficient coordination, Allunar said.

Security measures and route plans were discussed during the breakout group discussions of the second organizational meeting at the VIP lounge of the DZR airport in San Jose, Tacloban City. (Photo: PIA Leyte)
Some sites were visited and identified after the meeting at the DZR airport in San Jose, Tacloban City. (Photo courtesy of CAAP-8)

“It would be overwhelming for us to rescue around 200 passengers in the event of an accident. Therefore, this emergency committee will be reinforced during emergencies or disasters,” he said. 

He identified an airplane crash as an unavoidable airport accident as an example, and this meeting would provide them with efficient plans on how to swiftly respond and save the victims' lives, including recovering the airplane's properties. 

The meeting was divided into breakout group sessions for medical, rescue, firefighting, security, and communication groups to avoid overlapping functions and ensure designated units for emergency support and rescue operations. 

Allunar clarified that this initiative was conducted only this year because they have yet to finalize the manual required for emergency and disaster plans since 2021. They have considered various factors during the manual's preparation.

One of the factors he mentioned was the COVID-19 pandemic, which reduced airport income due to fewer flights, affecting the CAAP budget. However, once flights return to normal, the airport's finances are expected to recover, and CAAP funded the simulation exercises. 

Allunar added that no major accidents have occurred at the airport. He identified a bird strike in the airplane's propeller as a minimal factor to consider, as some aircraft have experienced damage due to this incident. He shared that they are trying to minimize wildlife's presence in the airfield. 

One of the agencies that participated in the discussion expressed a positive impression of the outcome and shared their initial plans.

“This is a great way to advance the preparedness plan of the CAAP. It would help more people and establish linkages with government and private organizations, rescue groups, and health communication. This will ensure the community is well-prepared for any potential disaster or emergency. This practice will undoubtedly save more lives, promote health, and improve emergency response capabilities,” Lindon R. Mempin, a nurse who represented the Department of Health Eastern Visayas, said. 

Mempin shared that they will coordinate with the respective hospitals in the region, assist in checking the hospitals' preparedness, management, and capacity to accommodate patients, and suggest hospitals that could better address their medical needs. 

“I’m very grateful for their attendance at the meeting and willingness to share their expertise, resources, and lending personnel for this activity. This will be a huge achievement for the passengers who use our airport, ensuring that the response units can provide swift, urgent, and effective response in an emergency,” Allunar said. (LDL/AAC/PIA Leyte)

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Aaron Cotejar

Information Officer

Region 8

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