NAVAL, Biliran– Officials from the Americares Philippines trained Biliran’s disaster responders on preparedness for effective emergency communications from January 8 to 10.

The three-day training aims to strengthen health system preparedness, integrate preparedness activities for the local responders to serve their communities, and enhance coordination during disasters.

The participants completed three modules: Understanding communication basics, Communicating with the whole community, and Communicating in emergencies.

The local disaster responders were trained to express the value of empathic listening and effective feedback; discuss how speakers’ and listeners’ non-verbal cues impact communication; identify vocal factors that contribute to effective communication; explain how actively engaging the audience contributes to effective communication; discuss the do’s and don’ts of using voice; and assess their current communication skills.

Local disaster responders will also analyze their community to identify groups requiring consideration when preparing and delivering communications; identify factors that impact communication requirements; identify strategies for communication effectively; indicate how day-to-day communication differs from communication during an incident; identify strategies for communicating effectively in emergency situations; select the most appropriate form of communication for a given situation; and indicate how social media and other communications technology can be used to communicate with members of the community.

The 25 participants in the training were composed of personnel from the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO), Rural Health Unit (RHU), Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (MSWDO), Municipal Police Station (MPS), Municipal Fire Station, and some key personnel from the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO).

Jennifer Soledad Chico, the DRR program officer of Americares Philippines, emphasized that the training will enhance the communication skills of local disaster responders. It aims to identify the emergency communication team in the LGU or agency and practice creating media statements, advisories, press releases, and fact sheets.

She added that the training will allow the participants to practice being the media spokesperson during a crisis or emergency and to communicate information that the public needs to know to reduce the incidence of illness and death.

Participants shared their perspectives on the training, expressing that they found the subject matter to be informative and beneficial, particularly in the context of managing disasters and emergencies.

Sofronio B. Dacillo, Jr., DRRM officer of Biliran province, said that the training will assist local disaster responders in locating and reuniting lost or separated family members during emergencies, particularly when communication facilities and infrastructure are damaged.
Raoul C. Villordon, a representative from the Naval MDRRMO, stated that misinformation during times of disaster can be prevented with the kind of training they have.

Jan Albert I. Saulan, a representative from the Naval MSWDO, said that the training is essential and relevant in his line of work since he is on the frontlines during emergencies or calamities. The training will help them fulfill their duties more effectively, especially in providing updates and situational reports to their stakeholders.

“We always owe the public true and quality news, along with authentic information about what is happening in the locality during times of emergency or disaster,” Saulan said. (AAC/RSV/PIA Biliran)