By Erwin M. Mascariñas
BUTUAN City–The provincial government of Surigao del Norte immediately sent more emergency responders to Siargao Island in the wake of an accident involving the child of popular TV journalist Karen Davila.
Davila’s son suffered wounds after waves made him plow through coral reefs.
In a March 31 statement, the Surigao del Norte capitol said several rescue teams, including an ambulance, were dispatched to the surfing town of General Luna as well as to other tourist destinations in Siargao Island.
Gov. Sol Matugas issued an executive order requiring all town mayors in the island to “provide 24/7 medical assistance for the public… and ensure that there is sufficient supply of medicines, being the frontline in the provision of health services in their respective areas of responsibility.”
The capitol said members of the rescue teams were trained personnel from the Provincial Health Office and Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office who have been tasked to monitor frequently visited tourist areas in the island, including “Cloud 9” in General Luna.
After the incident involving Davila’s child, the capitol convened town officials so they would to be proactive in coming up with measures to ensure the safety and comfort of the tourists in coordination with the provincial government, the Department of Tourism, Department of Public Works and Highways, Land Transportation Office, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, Philippine Ports Authority, Maritime Industry Authority, and other national line agencies and tourism industry stakeholders.
The tourism department confirmed that the surfing instructors hired by Davila were not DOT-accredited surfing instructors.
“Majority of the surfing instructors in the island are actually not accredited, but in most cases we do try to teach tourists on the sideline to earn extra income. I think there are only around 15 to 20 accredited surfing instructors in the island who are also trained in first-aid response if the need would arise,” said “Prex,” one of the surfers in the island who occasionally gives surfing lessons to tourists.
Several surfers said the resorts don’t ask if surfing instructors are accredited by the government or not as long as they are know to have “adequate backgrounds” in surfing in Siargao.