State, private hospitals on alert for New Year’s Eve revelry

December 30, 2010 11:23 pm 

By Joel C. Atencio

MANILA, Dec. 30 – Doctors, nurses and other medical personnel of government-run and private hospitals nationwide were placed on Thursday on alert for firecracker-related injuries and other emergencies as the nation joins the world in welcoming the New Year on Friday.

The Department of Health (DOH) issued this announcement a few days after it launched an all-out drive against the sale and use of firecrackers through its “Kontra Paputok Campaign."

Health Secretary Enrique Ona said that in line with this campaign, he will do the rounds of various hospitals in Metro Manila starting at 10 a.m. Friday. Among these are the Jose Reyes Memorial Hospital in Sta. Cruz, Manila; Ospital ng Tondo, also in Manila; Philippine Orthopedic Center (POC) and East Avenue Medical Center (EAMC) in Quezon City; and Ospital ng Makati in Makati City.

As of 2 p.m. Thursday, the DOH-National Epidemiology Center (NEC) said 229 firecracker and stray bullet-related injuries were reported at different sentinel hospitals.

Ona said this was 65 cases or 40 percent higher than the previous five-year (2005-2009) average, but eight cases or three percent lower than last year.

Of the country's 17 regions, Metro Manila reported the most number of cases (48 percent).

Of the total 229 cases, 216 or 94 percent were due to firecrackers, eight (4 percent) to stray bullets and five (2 percent) to fireworks ingestion. One death was reported since Dec. 21.

Meanwhile, the Quezon City government has prepared for any emergency situation that may happen during the New Year’s Day celebration due to sales, use and storage of firecrackers.

This is based on orders of Mayor Herbert M. Bautista who directed the Quezon City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (QCDRRMC) to place its members on alert status to ensure the safety of all local residents and to monitor the sales of firecrackers in the city.

Bautista told the council members to make sure that there will be zero casualty during the holidays, especially on New Year’s Eve by taking steps against the illegal sale and distribution of firecrackers.

According to QCDRRMC action officer and Department of Public Order and Safety (DPOS) chief Elmo San Diego, the council as early as Dec. 16 had been placed on alert status and instructed to undertake preparations for any emergency during the holiday season.

Personnel of the member-offices of the QCDRRMC are in shifting schedules during the holidays to smoothen the process of emergency responses and to intensify the implementation of the city’s "Oplan: Iwas Paputok 2010“ with the theme: “Ngayong bagong taon, gusto mo ba ng saya o disgrasya? Huwag magpaputok!”

Dr. Rolly Cruz of the QC Health Department is positive that the city’s "Iwas Paputok Campaign 2010” will somehow reduce the number of fireworks-related injuries in Quezon city.

In 2009, there were about 1,036 recorded fireworks-related injuries in the National Capital Region (NCR), 41 percent higher than in 2008 which had 733.

The Quezon City Police District (QCPD, fire department, emergency rescue teams, DPOS and health department are on round-the-clock alert status from Dec. 31 to Jan. 1, 2011 to facilitate emergency measures and response.

A house-to-house public information campaign was conducted in the city's 142 barangays to increase public awareness on the dangers of firecrackers and to prevent injuries from handling and use of firecrackers and fireworks.

Pre-clinic lectures regarding “Iwas Paputok” were launched in the city’s 62 health centers.

Barangay officials have also been asked to submit the designated fireworks zone in their areas to guaranty safety among residents. (PNA) scs/JCA


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