THE Office of Civil Defense in the Cordillera Administrative Region (OCD-CAR) is set to conduct an Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) training for local responders in the city.

Jojo Valera of OCD-CAR in a radio interview informed that they are already in the process of planning for the USAR training initially targeting two batches, with 30 participants for each batch.

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Valera said there will be high technology equipments that will be used for the said training, which will focus on search and rescue operations on collapse structures or buildings.

OCD-CAR Regional Director Olivia Luces confirmed that they are set to conduct USAR training for local responders for the first semester of this year, and to train a pool of trainors, which will later train responders down to the municipal level.

"It is an international trend now to focus on human investments, in terms of knowledge and we have to update or capacitate our responders with the proper skills and new technology in dealing with search and rescue operations during earthquakes and collapse structures incidents to avoid secondary wave of casualties," Luces said.

He also noted that the possibility of an earthquake is always there as there are six fault lines located in the region and with two of them in the vicinity of Baguio. Thus, OCD also plans to conduct a weekly advocacy on Disaster Risk Reduction through the help of media.

Luces also announced that they will also focus on Rapid Disaster Assessment and Need Analysis (RDANA) and Community Based Risk Reduction Management trainings.

Luces said they are now inserting the climate change adaptations on their information, education and communication (EIC) campaigns so as to increase public awareness. She also cited that there is now an on-going debate among experts if climate change has something to do with the recent and frequent earthquakes being experienced in different parts of the world.

Valera also stressed that aside from contingency planning, skills trainings and IEC campaigns, the OCD is currently in partnership with other government line agencies (like DENR, DA, DOH, DOST and Pagasa) on information dissemination, through advisories, regarding the latest developments on the El Niño phenomenon that we are expecting to experience this year.

According to Valera, the El Niño phenomenon is among the effect of climate change, thus he also stressed the importance of pushing Congress to pass the pending National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Act of 2009, which will give our country a legislative support in dealing with disaster in a proactive way.

The said law will also uphold the people's constitutional right to life and property and internationally accepted principles on disaster management, hazard assessment and disaster reduction. It will also provide keen support to knowledge management and education. (Lito Dar)