By Leslie J. Batallones
THE DR. JOVITO SALONGA Center for Law and Development is pushing for a central 911 hotline for Negros Oriental to ensure faster response time.
Atty. Mikhail Lee Maxino, the director of Salonga Center, said that people need 911 because it quickly registers to people’s minds and streamlines different agencies to respond faster.
The initiative of installing 911 in the province was inspired by the Central Communications and Emergency Center of Davao City.
Maxino stressed that Dumaguete, as one of the “best retirement cities in the world,” must have the 911 emergency number.
“I feel that it is ironic that we are being noted as one of the best retirement places and yet we don’t have that kind of system,” said Maxino.
Maxino said that killings, natural disasters, and other tragedies were considered in pushing this initiative.
To jumpstart the initiative, Salonga Center met with different private and sectors last October 2015. Between then until the end of February, the center will keep in touch with the Davao government to know the kind of preparation needed for a central 911 response.
The representatives from the private and public sectors expressed the possible challenges in the budget and cooperation and support of other sectors like One Rescue, Coast Guard, police, Chinese Chamber of Commerce, and the media.
However, the representatives from private and public sectors opted to push for the plan to have a dispatch system manned by trained people who will facilitate calls and direct emergencies to concerned government agencies.
Maxino said that Davao has system that is “very successful but very expensive.” He said that Davao has state-of-the art equipment and 24/7 CCTV monitors that can zoom in on even the plate number of a vehicle one kilometer away.
“Our strategy is to first put a functional system. We are not ambitious for now, given the limited resources to have like Davao,” Maxino said.
Maxino added that equipment and response training, and technical expertise will be studied and developed next because these require funding.
With Dumaguete’s inclusion in the Top 100 business process outsourcing (BPO) destinations in the world, Maxino hopes that BPOs can help and use their technical expertise and facilities.
“The effort is all worth it. In the end, if this will not work at least we tried. We are hoping that all the sectors will cooperate,” said Maxino.
Silliman University Medical Center Foundation, Inc. (SUMCFI) President Roberto Montebon had indicated interest in training the dispatchers in first aid.
Moreover, call center agents that may not be familiar in administering first aid to callers are urged to get involved.
Present in the meeting last October 2015 were Negros Oriental Assistant Provincial Administrator Atty. Froilan Pinili, Globe Telecommunications representatives Lemuel Dizon and Rico Cornelio, SPO4 Merton Teves and SPO4 Samuel Ansok of the Dumaguete City Police, FO3 Earl Manny Uy of the Dumaguete City Fire Department, and SUMCFI vice president for nursing and patient services Fredita Tan.~