In Case of Emergency: Davao Central 911


Davao is one of a kind city in the Philippines. Although it has laws similar to the rest of the Philippines, Davao takes pride in its whole-hearted implementation, making it a model to the rest of the Philippines.

But Davao City is not just about to rest on its achievements like the implementation of the comprehensive smoking ban which earned recognition by the World Health Organization or proactive ways to make the city’s downtown more pleasing to the eye.

The centerpiece of the city’s implementation of peace and order — and equally a source of pride and joy — may just be Davao Central 911.

The project was started its humble beginning in 1997 when Davao City government teamed up with Davao Light and Power Company, the energy provider of the city, to light its streets and alleys. Dubbed Davao City Street Lighting Project, the project was aimed at reducing criminality under the theory that crimes thrive under the culture of darkness.

DLPC, which developed its Geographic Information System way back in 1992, presented its capability to pinpoint the location of their electric poles. And while the feature soon spawned new idea as the geo information can be used in enhancing the city’s services, linking them seamlessly, the idea did not materialize until 2002 when talks on the use of DLPC’s GIS was made.

On September 27, 2002, Davao’s Central Communications and Emergency Response Center, the forerunner of the Central 911 was formally launched. The facility is composed of a call center which receives distress calls in cases of emergency, and promptly dispatches appropriate teams — fire, police, paramedics and rescue teams — while pinpointing them to the area of concern accurately.

The facility, now more formally known as Davao City Central 911, becomes the third of such kind in the world, after the United States and Canada. Now, Central 911 integrates its own Emergency Medical Services Unit, Urban Search and Rescue Unit, Fire Auxiliary Service Unit, and K-9 Unit.

Central 911 is manned by 24 call takers and 16 dispatchers working round the clock. The Emergency Medical Services has 106 emergency medical technicians and 33 ambulance operators who are working on a 24-hour shift schedule. Such manpower managed to assist 39,643 patients from 2011 to 2014. In 2013, the EMS also responded to 176 fire incidents as well as acting as medical back-up in a couple of rescue-related calls.

While its primary service is for Davao City residents, the call of duty for Central 911 goes beyond the city limits. In the wake of supertyphoon Haiyan/Yolanda, Central 911 was on hand to assist the people of Tacloban and was among a handful of rescue units to arrive outside of the city.

The presence of such service has meant a safer city for Davao residents. In 2012 Davao City was ranked as the world’s fourth safest city. For seven years, Davao City was considered as the most peaceful city in East and Southeast Asia. A study indicated that 93.75% of respondents feel safe to walk in city’s streets during daylight hours, and a decent 76.69% think the same way during night time.

Such accomplishment is amazing considering that Davao City has a land area of 224,000 hectares, almost eight times the size of Cebu City and three times that of Metro Manila.

Now that Mayor Duterte just won the hearts of many Filipinos to become the successor of President Benigno Aquino III, hope is high that the same system of security can also be implemented in many other places in the Philippines.