As the lead disaster response agency, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) continues to strengthen its operation systems to ensure fast, efficient and reliable disaster response operations in the country.
The Department, through its Disaster Response Assistance and Management Bureau (DReAMB), conducted yesterday a simulation exercise for its Rapid Emergency Telecommunications Team (RETT) using the latest state of the art satellite telecommunications and connectivity equipment from Inmarsat, a British mobile satellite company, under the International Partnership Programme (IPP) of the United Kingdon Space Agency (UKSA).
“The government continues to reinforce our response capability for disasters and hazards through our collaboration with international organizations,” explained DSWD Officer-in-Charge (OIC) Emmanuel A. Leyco.
“Our current partnership program with the UK Space Agency and Inmarsat aims to enhance the disaster capability of DSWD especially in terms of ensuring that there is reliable and uninterrupted communication between the Quick Response Teams (QRTs), the Operations Center (OpCen), and the affected region,” said DSWD OIC Leyco.
Meanwhile, DReAMB Director Felino O. Castro V said that, “The bedrock of prompt and effective response is the ability to communicate and access reliable, accurate, and timely information, before, during, and after a disaster, at all levels of response governance.”
He added that in times of disaster, relief comes in the form of food, water, shelter, clothing, and the ability to communicate and access information. He shared that in 2013, Typhoon Yolanda victims queued for a chance to use the free internet service of DSWD to communicate with their family and friends.
Last August, the DSWD received the satellite telecommunications equipment from the international partners during a turn-over ceremony held at the DSWD Field Office (FO) V in Legazpi City, Albay, the chosen pilot region for the program because of their exposure to various kinds of hazards.
The equipment from Inmarsat includes satellite phones, manual and auto-pointing Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) terminals, and Global Xpress terminals, a powerful and highly portable satellite terminal which can provide high-speed internet connectivity even in remote locations in the country. Four other regions are set to receive similar equipment later in 2018.
During the drill, the DSWD-RETT successfully simulated their earthquake emergency telecommunications response protocols and utilized the equipment to communicate with the different Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) focals in Regions III and V, the National Resource Operations Center (NROC) in Pasay City, the DSWD OpCen and in the West Quadrant Command Post located at Intramuros, Manila.
The effectiveness of the satellite telecommunications equipment will also be put to test in the next Nationwide Simultaneous Earthquake Drill (NSED) on September 27 which will be organized by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) and Office of Civil Defense (OCD).