A time of haze, masks, and shared worries

THE Cebu City Health Department (CHD) advised residents near the Cebu Business Park, where a fire was ongoing as of late Saturday night inside Metro Ayala Department Store, to wear masks to prevent health risks.

Dr. Alice Aycardo, assistant city health officer, said the smoke from the fire scene is too risky for those who have cardiovascular and pulmonary illnesses.

“That’s the reason we already distributed masks to the residents in nearby barangays aside from those who are at the scene like firefighters and other responders,” Aycardo said.

These barangays include Kamputhaw, which is nearest to the mall, Barrio Luz, Lahug, and Lorega.

Aycardo advised those who want to secure their own masks to buy the N95 kind.

“We have N95 masks but it’s not enough, so we gave surgical masks but we advised them to wear two surgical masks at the same time,” Aycardo said.

The Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office issued a haze alert over Cebu Business Park yesterday, while the fire that began shortly before 10 p.m. Friday still raged.

Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office Chief Nagiel Bañacia asked those living or staying near Cebu Business Park who have cardiovascular problems to temporarily evacuate or transfer to safer areas, away from the heavy and hazardous fumes from the fire.

What to do next

The CHD also opened the health centers of Barangays Lahug, Kamputhaw, Barrio Luz and Mabolo to give immediate and initial treatment to those with respiratory concerns.

While observing the fire, Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella said there was a need to upgrade the equipment and expertise of the city’s firefighters.

Labella said that firefighters who are risking their lives to respond to fires should have better equipment and sustained training in handling different types of fires. He raised the need for training on how to deal with thick smoke and the risk of suffocation.

“Firefighters should be trained further even if they already had the training before,” he said. They need more breathing apparatus, too.

For several years already, the City Government has been supporting the fire department by providing materials and equipment to them. (RVC)