19 August 2009

SBMA rescue team bags ‘Kalasag’ award

Preparedness and the willingness to respond to emergency calls at all times proved its worth for the rescue team of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), as it was conferred a special citation presented by no less than President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on August 12.

The SBMA Fire and Rescue Team received special recognition for being the “Best Support Organization/Institution” in the national level during the 2009 Gawad Kalasag awarding ceremony at the Malacañang Palace on Wednesday.

The awards, which are given out by the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC), recognize individuals, groups or institutions that have shown extraordinary courage, heroism, self-sacrifice, and bravery against all odds in times of emergencies and disasters.

Aside from the SBMA team, 57 other entities received the award from President Arroyo and Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro.

NDCC executive officer Glenn Rabonza said that the special citation for SBMA recognized the Subic rescue team’s “invaluable services, competence and commitment in preparing for and responding to emergencies within and outside the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.”

SBMA Fire Chief Ranny Magno, who received the Kalasag award with his team members, meanwhile shared the citation with the rest of the SBMA employees.

“This is not something that only the SBMA fire and rescue team should be proud of,” Magno said. “We earned this national award because of the support of everyone in the SBMA.”

Magno said his team has also received several commendations for various emergency responses and rescue missions made over the years.

On July 28, the Cordillera Regional Disaster Coordinating Council (CRDCC) recognized the SBMA team for its support in recovering and retrieving trapped miners at Itogon, Benguet, in September 2008. The award was presented by CRDCC regional director Olive Luces in Baguio City.

The SBMA team also received a certificate of appreciation from Director Neri Amparo of RDCC-3 for the same heroic acts in Benguet.

Magno recalled that after getting the emergency call from Baguio City in the afternoon of that fateful day in September, the SBMA rescue team was immediately organized that by midnight all were already heading for Baguio.

A few minutes after the team's arrival at the collapsed mine shaft, the operation to retrieve the trapped miners started. Before noon the following day, the team had retrieved the first miner, Magno said.

Meanwhile, SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza gave the assurance that the SBMA will always be ready to send its fire and rescue teams anytime, anywhere to provide assistance and to save lives and properties.

“The SBMA also has a mandate to contribute to the development of neighboring communities, and that includes making sure that these communities are a safe place to live in,” Arreza said.

He said the latest emergency that the SBMA team responded to was in Botolan, Zambales, where floodwaters trapped hundreds of residents in 10 barangays after a lahar dike collapsed due to heavy rains from typhoon “Kiko.” (SBMA Corporate Communications)

PHOTO: SBMA fire chief Ranny Magno (left) presents an award received by the SBMA Fire and Rescue Team to SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza.