Volunteerism saving life, making Baguio's tourism alive

BAGUIO CITY -- Rey, a tourist from Alabang and some friends were traveling along Kennon road on Saturday evening, on their way back to Metro Manila from this city during the Holy Week, when he felt sick while driving his car.

He stopped the car and turned on the blinkers.

Jerry Santiago, a member of Smash Club Pangasinan - an affiliate group of the Baguio-Benguet Public Information Civic Action Group (BB-PICAG), an emergency rescue volunteer group manning the historic road - saw Rey’s car.

With his “rescuer instinct,” he alighted from the vehicle and checked on it. There he saw Rey in bad condition. He was experiencing a cardiac arrest.

Jerry contacted the BB-PICAG stationed at Camp 1, Camp 3, Camp 6 and at the Baguio General Hospital area. A few minutes later, an emergency team with an ambulance rushed to where the car was parked.

Looking at the situation inside the car and Rey's big built, they opted to rush the patient to the Baguio General Hospital (BGH) with Jerry leaving his vehicle on the ground and driving Rey’s car.

Ted, another trained volunteer of BB-PICAG rode with Rey and started to stabilize him using his knowledge on medical emergency response.

Rey was received by BGH personnel at 9, in stable condition and ready to receive medical treatment.

Rey, 55, could have died along the way had there been no volunteers along the 33-kilometer historic Kennon road.

Mayor Mauricio Domogan had earlier said that there were hundreds of volunteers who give assistance to the City Government during peak tourism season.

They provide information assistance, motorist assistance, and respond to medical and emergency situations. There are also scouts deployed to assist in the maintenance of traffic as thousands of vehicles flock this summer destination.

At the Central Business district and outskirts, including the highways leading to and from Baguio, they are also present.

Domogan, in a press conference on Holy Wednesday said “you can see many tents set-up in different parts of the city, they are of the volunteers who continue to support the city during this season.”

He expressed gratitude to the volunteers, who are around to help the city government.

u201cWe have a lot of them always willing to share their time, skills and even their funds just to make sure that Baguio will be able to provide aid whenever needed,” Domogan said, adding that Baguio is filled with residents who have the heart for volunteerism.

During the highlights of the Baguio Flower Festival in February, there were over a thousand volunteers who augmented the Baguio city police office and the government offices to make sure that residents and tourists alike would be safe and secured. They also volunteered to maintain order and to provide various types of assistance, such as they did on Holy week.

The BB-PICAG has been manning Kennon road for 43 years now, except when it was closed after the 1990 earthquake. They divide themselves in four teams and each team is composed of a mechanic, medical responders and traffic enforcers.

They are all equipped with the necessary medical kit – including an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) – and an ambulance.

On Palm Sunday, they also set up camp and stayed until after the visitors have left the city.

u201cWe want to make sure that there will be someone who can help in cases of emergencies,” Domogan explained.

As a volunteer organization, BB-PICAG sustains its operations using the monthly club dues and donations from good-hearted persons.

Like BB-PICAG, all the other volunteer groups operate using personal funds and donations from benevolent individuals and companies mentioned by the Mayor.

Nel Marilla, former president of BB-PICAG said the resources are dwindling as very few people are opening their arms to groups like them, but despite the financial situation, they continue to exist by compensating donations from their own pockets.

He said, “Rey is just one life saved because there are volunteers who registered with the city and are coordinating their actions,” as he committed to continue to be at Kennon road to aid motorists. (PNA)


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