Hospitals in Region 12 on ‘white alert’ for holiday season

GENERAL SANTOS CITY(MindaNews/20 December)– The Department of Health (DOH) in Region 12 and all government and private hospitals in the region will be on code white alert beginning Saturday in connection with the upcoming Christmas and New Year celebrations.

Jenny Ventura, DOH-12 health education officer, said Friday such move was aimed “to ensure immediate and proper response to emergency cases that might arise in the area during the celebrations and the long holiday break.”

Region 12, which is also known as the Soccsksargen Region, comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

Ventura said the alert, which was based on a directive issued by the DOH central office, covers health facilities or stations operated by the DOH, local government units and private entities.

The code white alert will be observed until January 6 to complement with the reporting period set by the DOH for firecracker-related incidents, she said.

“All hospitals and health facilities and our operations center will be on standby 24/7 during the period in anticipation of any eventuality that might occur,” Ventura said.

In a briefer, the DOH said the code white alert is usually adopted for national events with potential for mass casualty incidents.

“It also means that a hospital’s emergency medicines, especially [for] trauma, are fully stocked and made available at the emergency room,” it said.

Under a code white alert, medicines and supplies in the operating rooms should be reviewed and increased to meet sudden requirements and other needs such as x-ray plates, laboratory equipment and other necessities should be made available and not required to be purchased by victims, the agency noted.

“(The DOH) regional offices are also empowered to be prepared to assist in any evacuation of the population in their areas,” it added.

Ventura said they will continue with their intensified campaign against the use of firecrackers and fireworks in the next two weeks as it moves for an injury-free Christmas and New Year celebrations.

She said their campaign is mainly focused on raising advocacy among residents to shun the use of firecrackers and fireworks and instead use the traditional “torotot” or hooters and even vehicle horns during the upcoming revelries.

“Most of our past victims were children so we’re trying to get the commitment of our parents to join us in this advocacy,” she said.

Ventura said they have scheduled advocacy sessions with concerned sectors and the media in Cotabato City on December 23 and in this city on December 26 as part of their intensified information and education campaign.

In early November, the Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) of South Cotabato launched its own “Kampanya Kontra Paputok” in a bid to lower and even eliminate cases of firecracker-related injuries in the area during the Christmas and New Year revelries.

A report released by the IPHO’s epidemiology and surveillance unit showed that the province’s fireworks and firecracker-related injuries in the previous Christmas season reached a total of 86 cases.

Such figure increased by 59 percent when compared to the 54 cases recorded in 2011, said Cecile Lorenzo, IPHO epidemiology and surveillance unit head.

She said 38 of the victims involved children aged 5 to 10 while the youngest victim was just six months old.

“Piccolo is still the number one cause of injuries with 51 cases and that had been the trend in the province in the last three years,” Lorenzo said. (MindaNews)