March 25, 2023

To survive a disaster, people must be aware of their environment and act early on.

This was the advice of survival and rescue expert, Dr. Ted Esguerra, to the senior citizens and persons with disability during a forum aimed at raising the sector’s awareness on disaster preparedness.

Before a disaster, Esguerra said elders and PWDs will not become liabilities if they commit early or oblige immediately when there are calls for evacuation, considering the time they will need to move around.

When caught in a disaster, Esguerra said a person’s will to live is the first component of survival.

In cases of collapsed structures, Esguerra said the best way to survive is to crawl to the walls while finding a safe way out or while waiting for help.

“The walls are your lifelines. No rescuer in the world will ever go to the center of a (collapsed) building,” he said.

Esguerra was one of the resource speakers during the disaster preparedness forum initiated by the SM Baguio through SM Cares.

Mall Manager Rona Correa said the forum is part of the mall’s effort to help senior citizens and PWDs become more resilient and be more prepared in times of a disaster.

“They are most vulnerable during disasters and we want them to be ready by involving them in disaster preparedness forums. Through this event, we want to teach the elders and PWDs how to respond to a disaster,” she said.

Correa added the forum was also a reminder that disasters can happen anytime and preparedness can help lessen the number of lives lost.

SM Malls Senior Vice President and SM Cares for PWDs and Senior Citizens Program Head Bien Mateo said the disaster preparedness forum is one of the initiatives pursued by the company to help make cities safer, more resource-efficient, resilient, and inclusive pursuant to United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 11, which aims to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable.

For SM Baguio, Correa said aside from the disaster preparedness forum, they participate in the quarterly nationwide earthquake drill to help in the government’s effort to inculcate to the public the “duck, cover, and hold” strategy.

In line with the mall’s mantra of inclusivity, she said SM Baguio holds seminars to teach the mall frontliners how to treat PWD customers. – Jane B. Cadalig