Fire officer killed, volunteer injured in Koronadal rescue drill accident

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/17 August) – A government rescuer was killed while a civilian volunteer is currently in critical condition after they accidentally fell off the city hall building in nearby Koronadal City during a rescue drill Thursday afternoon.

Senior Insp. Milo Manlabao, Koronadal City fire marshal, said Fire Officer 3 Elwin Capalla and volunteer Carlos Espartero were rappelling from the third level of the city hall building around 1 p.m. when the rope that they were holding suddenly gave way.

He said Capalla, who is a member of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) station in Koronadal City, fell first from the building and died instantly due to severe body and head injuries.

Espartero sustained various serious injuries and was immediately rushed to a hospital in Davao City, he said.

Manlabao said their investigation into the incident is still ongoing but said witnesses pointed to the faulty rappel rope or cable as the main cause.

“The hook attached to their rope reportedly disengaged while they were going down (the building),” he said.

Koronadal City Mayor Peter Miguel said Friday they were still shocked over the accident, which happened on the fourth day of the local government’s week-long disaster and rescue exercises.

“It was really a sad incident. We’re supposedly holding these drills to prepare and equip ourselves for emergency situations and we never anticipated this to happen,” he said.

The mayor assured that the local government will extend all the necessary assistance to Capalla’s family and for the medical needs of Espartero.

Capalla is considered a national rescue instructor and is one of the lead rescue trainers of the BFP in Region 12 or the Soccsksargen Region.

He had spearheaded the conduct of regular rescue drills of several local governments in the area that were required to hold disaster exercises once in every quarter of the year. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)