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PGMA wants 'first aid' included in school curriculum

Manila (11 November) -- After hearing the tragic stories of deaths and survivals from the victims of the latest Masbate sea tragedy, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ordered the Department of Education (DepEd) to include first-aid instructions in the school curriculum.

The President made the directive through Transportation Undersecretary Elena Bautista who was with the Chief Executive during her Masbate visit Monday to condole and interact with the survivors and the bereaved families of the 42 people who perished in the sinking of M/B Don Dexter last Nov. 4 off Dimasalang town here.

"The President wants me to tell DepEd Secretary Jesli Lapus to include First Aid or CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) in the school curriculum," said Bautista, also officer-in-charge of the Maritime Administration Authority (MARINA).

President Arroyo was told by Llenesses, a college professor, that his late teacher-wife Marilyn, 43, could have survived the sea accident had she been given CPR.

"My wife was still breathing when she was rescued but she died because nobody dared to give her first aid or CPR," said Llenesses whose five year-old son, Giorgio, remains missing with nine other passengers some six days after the outrigger motorized banca overturned when hit by sudden gusts of wind.

"I asked the President if she could order the inclusion of First Aid in the high- school curriculum and I'm glad that our good President listened to me," said Llenesses, a professor of the Marikina Polytechnic College.

Llenesses appealed for help in finding hir son who was with her mother going back to Manila from a vacation in barangay Quezon in Uson here, when the accident took place almost one hour after the overloaded boat left the Dimasalang port in clear weather at 2 p.m.

CPR is a lifesaving technique of applying chest compressions, combined with mouth-to-mouth rescue breathing, on emergency victims whose breathing or heartbeat has stopped.

Meanwhile, President Arroyo also ordered Bautista to strictly implement all the maritime policies governing small inter-island boats to avoid another such disaster.

"We have a lot of policies to review here because most of our policies on safety requirements are for 35-and-above gross-ton ships only. The Don Dexter is 13 gross tons only," Bautista said.

"We might also include to require the skipper of small passenger boats to have license so that they will be knowledgeable enough to handle all the situations under any circumstances," Bautista added.

Bautista informed the President that the formal investigation of the accident started today, and that the franchise to operate of boat owner Gene Zuniega has already been cancelled.

Bautista informed the President further that Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) personnel will now be deployed daily at the Dimasalang port. (PIA-MMIO) [top]

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