Singapore Red Cross' Relief Mission In Bohol And Cebu Islands (3-day update)

Day 1, CEBU – PACKED HYGIENE SUPPLIES AND DISTRIBUTED HOT MEALS

Day 2, BOHOL, TAGLIBARAN CITY – AIDED AT TEMPORARY SURGICAL WARD

Day 3, BOHOL, LOON – ATTENDED TO THE INJURED AT GROUND ZERO

Following the devastating 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck Bohol last Tuesday, the Singapore Red Cross dispatched an emergency response team to Bohol and Cebu Islands on 18 October 2013. The six-person response team included two members from the Singapore Red Cross’ International Services department and four volunteers, of whom two were practising doctors.

Upon arrival in Cebu on 18 October, the response team met with the Philippine Red Cross’ Cebu Chapter who was operating first aid stations and welfare desks to provide medical assistance and welfare services to affected individuals. SRC team joined Filippino volunteers in packing more than 1,000 hygiene kits for the affected communities. That evening, Singapore Red Cross’ team augmented the Cebu Chapter’s food programme, by preparing and distributing ‘hot meals’ to 500 villagers at a coastal area in Cebu City.

By 8.30am the next day, 19 October, the Singapore Red Cross’ response has made its way to Bohol via ferry. The team met with a setback when the scheduled field trip to ground zero, Loon, was cancelled due to landslides that created barriers and obstructions on the roads. Determined to make each minute count, the team improvised their plans and re-routed to the Philippine Red Cross’ Rubb Hall, a temporary surgical ward, set up at the main government hospital in Tagbilaran City, where they assisted the other volunteers in relief efforts. The temporary ward in a large tent was established by the Philippine Red Cross to accommodate the anticipated increase of surgical cases and patients who require medical assistance in the aftermath of the earthquake.

One of SRC’s volunteers was Dr Ong Chin Siang, a cardiothoracic surgery resident. He shared, “90% of the patients we see here in Bohol are orthopedic patients, with fractures due to trauma from collapsed walls and buildings, or motor vehicle accidents that happened due to the earthquake.”

Dr Ong added, “One of the patients I saw was a jeep driver and the sole breadwinner for his family with four young children. He was struck by falling rubble while trying to escape from his badly damaged jeep and sustained a lower limb fracture. He shared with me his worries about having to provide for his family now that he will be unable to work for a period of time. Another patient we saw is an orphan whose arm was mangled after being trapped by debris and had an upper limb amputation. She maintained a positive outlook despite her current situation.”

On the same day, the team met with delegates from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) as well as Mr Richard Gordon, Chairman of Philippine Red Cross.

The SRC team woke to good news on Sunday, 20 October - the routes to Loon were cleared. Bringing medical relief supplies with them, the team travelled to Loon via boat and arrived at the advance medical post set up on the disaster site. At the medical post, the team disseminated the medical supplies and attended to patients.

Dr Ong described one particularly challenging situation, when the team transported a patient who required medical aid that was not available at Loon’s medical post back to Tagbilaran hospital.We needed to intubate a patient with severe status asthmaticus but the district hospital was flattened by the earthquake and the laryngoscope needed was buried under the rubble. The land evacuation routes from Loon to Tagbilaran are also affected by damaged bridges and landslides.”

Concurrently, SRC’s International Services staff went on field assessment to evaluate the situations in three different areas – Loon, Sevilla and Loboc.

This morning, 21 October, the team conducted a follow-up session with Loon patients who were sent to Tagbilaran Hospital yesterday. The team will continue to help in packing relief supplies and attending to the patients before they leave for Cebu in the late afternoon. Another SRC volunteer, Dr Ng Jun Jie, a general surgical resident shared, “As roads and bridges are repaired and land links restored, more survivors will emerge and require help. As the community rebuilds, sanitation related and community health problems will surface.”

As of 18 October, the Earthquake in Bohol has resulted in 173 deaths, displaced 353,785, and affected 3.4 million people. To donate to SRC’s ‘Southeast Asia Emergencies’ appeal, visit www.redcross.org.sg

(Date: 21 October 2013)

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