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Training of Volunteers for Earthquake Quick Response

hb_eqrpThe Quezon City Government sponsored a two-day training of volunteers for the Earthquake Quick Response Program or EQRP from May 2 to 3, 2012. This is in line with the directive of Mayor Herbert Bautista for disaster preparedness.

The Earthquake Quick Response Program or EQRP is a system of standardized procedures developed by the Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers and Association of Structural Engineers of the Philippines (PICE and ASEP) geared to produce reserve "Volunteer Evaluators," who may be mobilized by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council – Office of Civil Defense (NDRRMC-OCD) during post-disaster emergency situations.

There is the need for quick assessment of building structures after a strong earthquake to determine the safety of their re-use. It would be catastrophic if an "unsafe" building is opened to residents considering possible aftershocks and impending failures. The opposite on the other hand, can happen when a "safe" building is not declared so and residents cannot re-enter. Problems like health and sanitation that can arise after an earthquake, could compound an already difficult scenario.

eqrp01Under the EQRP, the NDRRMC-OCD, after declaring an emergency, can mobilize "Volunteer Evaluators," who in turn, shall be deputized by the Department of the Building Official to do rapid evaluation of structures and facilities.

Standard Operating Procedures (SOP's) have been established regarding the minimum requirements for qualification as "Volunteer Evaluator". These include:

  • PICE active membership
  • Willingness to volunteer
  • Complete attendance in trainings by PICE-ASEP
  • Pass the post-test

After the standard training, a "Volunteer Evaluator," would be familiar with standard foprms and procedures covering rapid visual assessment of building structures and shall be able to recommend whether the building can be reoccupied immediately, reoccupied with limited access restrictions, or considered totally off-limits to people. The whole excercise aims to ensure life safety and protection during post-earthquake events.

eqrp03For these emergency situations, EQRP embodies the spirit of volunteerism,. Participating "Volunteer Evaluators" are aware that they may be called upon to render expected services free-of-charge, except reimbursements of direct expenses and/or token gratitude.

Though the basic purpose of EQRP is for post-disaster emergencies, trained "Volunteer Evaluators" may also be tapped to render pre-earthquake rapid evaluation of exesting structures. This is included in the Memorandum of Agreement between PICE and the Quezon City Local Government.

The main objective of such an activity would be to assess the buildings' vulnerability to earthquakes considering their structural system, construction and site conditions, proximity to seismic faults as well as the buildings' present physical conditions. Through data gathered, the Department of Building Official could establish a mapping of buildings according to their seismic vulnerability. This information can be used for preparedness planning.

The EQRP is covered by a Memorandum of Agreement between the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council – Office of Civil Defense (NDRRMC-OCD), Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers (PICE), and the Association of Structural Engineers of the Philippines (ASEP).

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