A need for a centralized emergency response unit in Bohol

On a delayed trip on the Oceanjet from Cebu to Tagbilaran on August 25, 2010, the passengers were startled by a lady foreign tourist who fell on the floor and hit her head quite hard on a metal object.

Luckily, there was a doctor, a nurse and several kind hearted citizens who stood up and helped her recover from a fainting spell. But the crew seemed unable to respond properly to the emergency because they could not produce an emergency kit, saying they only had Biogesic on board. There wasn’t even a stretcher. Fortunately the doctor was bringing along her stethoscope and she was able to check her vital signs.

Her male companion, through the little English he knew, was able to communicate with the volunteers and provided the doctor with some medical history.

A little later, an improvised bed was finally made with blankets and towels from the passengers. A crew member removed padding from a chair and this was used as a pillow.

Amidst the chaos, the other volunteers tried to contact the hospitals to request for an ambulance so the patient could be immediately checked because her head was probably injured by the impact. Their attempts were unsuccessful.

As the boat neared the pier, the captain was able to arrange for the port police to use their vehicle as an ambulance.

The event underscored the need for a centralized emergency response unit in Bohol that could receive calls and evaluate for authenticity of the emergency and then organize the teams that should respond. This would be not only be important for Boholanos, but also to tourists who wouldn’t have a clue on who to contact for emergency situations. This unit should also respond not only to medical emergencies but also to fire, crime and other forms of emergency.

The technology to setup such emergency response unit is already available. Let’s hope one will soon be organized for Bohol.

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