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ERUF gears up for Japan mission

First Posted 09:45:00 03/20/2011

?Less sleep and more work? lie ahead for paramedics of Cebu?s Emergency Rescue Unit Foundation (ERUF) the minute they?re sent by the national government to earthquake and tsunami-ravaged Japan.

?Saving lives is an accomplishment. For us it?s our way of life,? said Medardo Batiller , chief of ERUF operations.

Since last Friday, a 10-man team has been waiting for the go signal to assist in urban search-and-rescue operations in winter-cold Japan.

They will bring their own food and fuel good for two weeks, a power generator and assorted equipment packed in an all-terrain vehicle.

?We don?t want to become a problem to others, so we?ll bring our own supplies,? Batiller said.

The award-winning Cebu paramedics group was tapped by the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council as part of the national contingent to assist Japan.

Batiller told CEBU DAILY NEWS they are taking into consideration a cold climate, the threat of radiation, aftershocks and a fuel shortage in Japan.

If ERUF gets the go signal, Batiller said the Japan trip will be his first rescue mission abroad.

ERUF was tapped a few years ago by the national government to assist in a calamity that hit Taiwan but the trip was cancelled at the last minute.

Batiller began working as a rescuer in 1986 at the Mandaue Rescue Unit with others who later joined him at the ERUF.

The crucial stage in a rescue is the first 72 hours, he said, after which the operations will be downgraded to recovery.

Still, Batiller said their previous rescue operations also showed that some victims survive after going missing for 10 days.

At the ERUF headquarters in barangay Banilad, Cebu City, the crew prepared what gear to bring along.

They will bring one or two of each equipment for the Japan operation, and leave some behind in Cebu for local emergencies.

The gear includes hydraulic cutters, rotary cutters, comb cutters, rotary rescue saws, a circular saw, a rotary hammer drill, demolition hammer and a thermal imager that is used to detect signs of life based on body heat.

They also have 10 face masks, 10 personal protective suits and seven low-pressure and high-pressure airbags.

The equipment is packed in boxes on board an all-terrain vehicle.

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