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Philippine USAR team to head home after 2 weeks of search and rescue in Turkey

After two weeks in Turkey's Adiyaman City helping save earthquake victims, the Philippine Urban Search and Rescue or USAR Team is preparing to head back home.

According to the USAR Team's Doctor, Dr. Ted Esguerra, it was time for them to leave.

"Wala nang makukuhang buhay nasa ilalim na ng rubble," said Esguerra. "I mean, ang locals dito they brought down the buildings na. Hindi na talaga makuha... iba kasi ang architecture dito. Pag gumuho, as in durog."

(It's become unlikely that we will find anyone alive under the rubble. I mean, the locals have started bringing down the buildings. They can no longer get to anybody. The architecture here is different. When it collapses, everything is crushed.)

The doctor added that the weather, specifically the cold, was also a major factor in the rescue effort.

Esguerra recounted an instance when they had attempted to rescue a victim who was buried deep under the rubble.

Despite the rubble that was five stories deep, they tried their best to dig the victim out. They kept digging until 3 a.m., but unfortunately, the victim had died by then.

"Na-detect ng Philippine Team yung may buhay. Dahil malalim, sige, biyak nang biyak nang makuha. Nakipagsabayan kami," said Esguerra. "Wala, hindi na siya umabot. Because, you know, hypothermia. Mabilis papatay ang hypothermia, eh. Magki-create sya ng arrhythmia sa heart."

(The Philippine Team detected someone who was still alive buried deep. It was difficult, but we didn't care. We tried our best to dig the victim out. But no, the victim died because of hypothermia. Hypothermia can kill quickly. It causes heart arrhythmia.)

The team's Life Locator and Vibrascope Technician Mark Lucas added that he too did not think they would be able to find anyone still alive under the rubble. 

However, Lucas was gratified that during their time in Turkey, they had found numerous victims who were still alive.

"Masaya po kami pag may nade-detect kami. So nabubuhayan kami ng loob. And ipinapanalangin namin na sana makuha nila ng buhay," said Lucas.

(It was gratifying to detect someone who was still alive. We pray that the victim is recovered still alive.)

While the USAR Team was ready to go home, Philippine medics were continuing with their work as casualties were still being brought in.

Office of Civil Defense Assistant Secretary Raffy Alejandro said the Philippine field hospital had treated around 603 patients.

"Hopefully we can finish in time sa target date na maghinto tayo on February 24, wherein itu-turn over na nila yung field hospital sa local authorities ng Adiyaman and then mag-pack up sila," said Alejandro.

"Hopefully they will be back home together with the USAR team on March 1." — DVM, GMA Integrated News