The Health Emergency Management System (HEMS) Division is giving the City Health Office’s (CHO’s) health management a boost in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic and disasters being experienced in Davao City.

CHO-HEMS Division Chief of Operations Shianne Marco, during the At Your Service program of 87.5 FM Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR) on Tuesday, May 17, 2022, said HEMS is a new division that generally manages the health status of every disaster victim in the city.

“Naa ta’y Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office under sa Response Cluster. Ang Response Cluster duna’y 911, CDRRMO, barangay disaster volunteers, fire volunteers ug Coastguard, kapulisan, PNP nga duna’y mga rescue units for disasters. If worse comes to worst, maoverwhelm gyud ang manpower and resources, puwede mi diha mupasok. Kining mga tao narespondehan sa atong disaster team sa evacuation center, we address the need of our evacuees (We have the Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office under the Response Cluster. The Response Cluster also has the Central 911, barangay disaster volunteers, firefighting volunteers, the Philippine Coastguard, Davao City Police Office, and the Philippine National Police that have their rescue units. The people responded on by our disaster team and sent to the evacuation center, we address their needs),” he explained.

Marco said that it is vital to address the health condition of evacuees since a single sick individual can infect others. Transmission of diseases, according to him, is faster in evacuation centers since they are crowded.

In evacuation centers, he said HEMS implements the WASH (water sanitation hygiene) and has in place a team from the Nutrition Division to focus on the nutrition of the evacuees. A medical team is also on standby to meet minor concerns and will facilitate referral to hospitals if admission is required.

HEMS also takes on a huge role in the city’s COVID-19 response.

He added, “Namugna ang HEMS in the midst of the pandemic. Nagsugod mi nga naa na ang problema. Medyo nagkalisod mi but still namanage pud nato tanan. Up until now buhi pa ta kay naa ta’y referral system sa One Hospital Command Center sa SPMC, operation center public hotline, contact tracing team, swabbing team, and sa RAT. Dako-dako ang role nato towards sa response sa pandemic (HEMS was formed in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. We started with the problem already there. We had difficulty at the start but we were able to manage. We are still alive until now with our referral system to the One Hospital Command Center at the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC), Davao City Operation Center (Opcen) Public Hotline, contact tracing team, swabbing team, and the Rapid Action Team. We play a great role in our response to the pandemic).”

Marco said they seemed to have faced a blank wall when they first encountered COVID-19 but they were all able to adjust along the way.

HEMS, meanwhile, is still hiring new staff. The current staff will undergo formal training two months from now.

“Ubay-ubay mi karon pero dili ingon ana ka competent pagsugod aning among gihimo nga trabaho. Sa pagsugod wala’y gusto muatubang kay Covid. Katong duna’y heart mag-volunteer sila hinay-hinay lang training, kasagaran verbal instruction lang. Nigamay napud ang tao kay ang uban gahawa napud, nagsubside napud si Covid, dili na ana kadaghan (We were many when we started but not really competent with the job. From the start, nobody wanted to face COVID-19. Only those with the heart to volunteer underwent informal training, mostly verbal instructions. Some have left already as COVID-19 cases are not that high anymore),” he added.

He also said that HEMS likewise addresses emerging and reemerging diseases, including the bird flu.CIO