The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) CEO and Chairman Richard J. Gordon praised the hard work and unwavering dedication of PRC staff and volunteers who provided medical services to devotees during the feast period of the Black Nazarene 2023.
Since 8:00 PM of 06 January, the PRC staff and volunteers have been on standby and providing continuous assistance to devotees who needed medical care. In a statement addressed to volunteers and staff, Chairman Gordon said “The Philippine Red Cross is able to serve and assist the devotees of the Black Nazarene Feast because of the volunteers and staff who have been working day and night since January 06. They brave the night and cold weather to attend to the needs of our people. Tunay na maasahan ang ating PRC volunteers, staff, and medical teams sa mga ganitong pagkakataon. Patuloy tayong aalalay sa mga deboto hanggang matapos ang Black Nazarene Feast.”
PRC Secretary General Gwendolyn T. Pang, meanwhile, similarly lauded the commitment of volunteers and staff. “I am proud of the volunteers and staff who dedicated their time to serve our kababayans in one of the most celebrated feasts in Philippine history. It is our collective effort that made our operation a successful one,” said Secretary General Pang.
As of 9:00 AM, 09 January, 461 devotees received medical assistance from PRC ambulance teams, volunteer doctors, and first aid stations, 417 of whom underwent blood pressure tests while 42 with minor injuries (e.g., abrasion, sprain, chest pain, contusion, abdominal pain, and nausea) received first aid treatment.
The PRC Emergency Medical Unit (EMU) served seven devotees with minor bruises and transported one patient who experienced chest pain and breathing problems to Philippine General Hospital (PGH) for further medical assessment. In addition to medical services, the PRC also provided Psychological First Aid (PFA) to two individuals attending the feast.
Hundreds of thousands of devotees are expected to gather at Quiapo Church and Quirino Grandstand from January 07 to 09 for the Black Nazarene’s first-ever “Walk of Faith”.
In line with this, the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) will dispatch more than 300 volunteers in 4 first aid stations and welfare desks along the procession route with 17 teams of foot patrollers serving as mobile first-aiders. Fire trucks and ambulance teams will also be in strategic areas starting January 07 to provide medical assistance to devotees coming from different regions of the country.
“A stampede and other incidents can happen in large crowds. We will prepare and deploy our volunteers, ambulance teams, and Emergency Response Units to ensure the safety of participants in the Black Nazarene Feast,” said PRC Chairman and CEO Richard J. Gordon.
The PRC also released the following safety reminders to help devotees avoid incidents that may occur during the feast:
- Secure your house before leaving. Unplug all electrical appliances.
- Be mentally and physically prepared.
- Pregnant women and persons who are sick are advised to stay home and rest.
- Bring protective gear against heat and rain.
- When coming in groups, designate a meeting point in case someone gets lost.
- Know the location, means of access, police stations, and first aid stations within the area.
- If there is an untoward incident, do not panic but take necessary precautions.
- Keep an ID with personal medical information and emergency contact numbers with you.
- Bring water, food and medications.
- Wear a facemask, and practice proper disinfection.
- Wear proper clothing and footwear. Avoid accessories.
Download the FIRST AID – IFRC APP, in case of emergency, call the Red Cross 143 hotline or 87902300.
In addition to these safety reminders, the PRC reiterated the importance of practicing minimum public health protocols as the transmission of Covid-19 is relatively high in crowded settings.