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Friday, July 05, 2013

“Reporting disasters” can be as easy as texting “tabang”

Rey Anthony Chiu

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, July 5, 2013 (PIA) –You witness a disaster, accident or a crime unfolding and you want to call for help, but your mobile phone’s load is not enough for a call, or composing lengthy messages may be too time consuming, what do you do?

Just text “Tabang” and send it to pre-designated Telephone and Radio Systems Integrated Emergency Response (TaRSIER 117), advices emergency rescue and response team leader Mark Galia, over at Kapihan sa PIA. 

Text messages can be sent to 0917-510-1490 (globe) or 0949-795-5530 (smart), although Tarsier can be direct dialed from any globe landline at 117, Galia explained, adding that the landline call is free. 

During the weekly radio forum aired live over DyTR in commemoration of July 1-7 as Disaster Preparedness Week, Galia said the receipt of the short message prompts TaRSIER 117 operators to immediately call the sender of the message so that proper details could be obtained for the mobile rescue team. 

And it is not just for disaster or accidents, even crime reporting can be done through text, TaRSIER 117 medic Harvey Mendez added. 
TaRSIER 117, a Bohol emergency rescue facility operates via an Executive Order 7-A of Bohol Governor Edgar Chatto, it is Bohol's response to RA 10121 or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction Management Act of 2010. 

TaRSIER 117 is part of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, which deals with concerns on public service and maintenance of peace and order, including the immediate provision of aid and assistance to victims of natural or manmade calamities. 

Although designed to be coordinative, the rescue facility is now linked with town rescue units so that the main purpose of assistance can best be served, according to TARSIER. 

During an incident, people can become too nervous that composing lengthy messages may take the needed time supposedly for the rescue team to mobilize. Tabang is enough, Galia said. 

In fact, all calls are treated confidential and life and death situations, so not everyone at the Tarsier could scrutinize who the caller, texter or informant is, that way we preserve the integrity of the syste, Galia explained. 

Rescue authorities however plead for people not to abuse the numbers assigned for emergencies as this could clog the system. 

Tarsier said they do get prank calls, and they take pity for their rescue teams who come to sites only to realize they have been played upon.

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