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20th of October 2018

Economy



Beyond the call of duty: Network Engineer rescues more than just damaged cell sites

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As their call of duty, field operations engineers are expected to keep communication lines up and running during calamities and disasters. But one of them, 36-year-old Joel Gonzales, recently showed what public service is all about by going beyond his mandate.

It was in July when southwest monsoon rains brought about by Tropical Depression Josie flooded parts of Dagupan City in Pangasinan, placing it under a state of calamity. With over five feet of rain and about 60 km/h winds, some families were trapped inside their homes, power and communication lines were toppled, and most vehicles were unable to pass by roads.

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At around 9:00 am on July 23, Globe Telecom deployed its field operations engineers in affected areas to check the state of its cellular towers. One of the deployed engineers, Joel, braved the massive floods and strong winds that hit Dagupan to perform his duty.

Upon his visit in the flood-hit area, Joel saw a couple of families trapped in their homes. Waist-deep rainwaters and strong winds prevented vehicles to pass by the area. At that point, Joel knew he needed to do something beyond his duty of restoring communication lines. Without having second thoughts, he called his immediate supervisor and asked permission to help rescue two trapped families before checking the state of the cellular towers in the area.

It was not easy. Joel walked over four kilometers of waist-deep rainwaters to get to the flooded houses. He also had to rent two rickety boats as vehicles were unable to pass by the flooded area. With the assistance of two boatmen and four local hires, he rescued nine residents from their homes and brought them to a safe place in the metro.

“Hindi madali yung pinagdaanan para makarating sa mga bahay pero kinakailangan nila ng tulong. Pinaka-importante ang buhay ng mga tao kaya pinili kong unahin ang pagsagip sa mga tao bago ko binisita yung mga sites namin dun sa flooded areas. (It was not easy to get to the flooded homes but our help was needed. The lives of people are the most important that is why we chose to rescue flood victims before we assess communication lines in the area),” Joel said.

Disaster preparedness

Joel immediately set out to work after finding a safe shelter for the flood victims. From around 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm, he restored Globe cellular towers in Dagupan lashed by Tropical Depression Josie. He was one of the several field operations engineers who waded into fast-moving floodwaters in Dagupan and other affected cities to restore cellular sites and help communities stay connected.

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“Our field operations engineers, like Joel, are those who first respond in times of disasters and calamities. We are grateful for their courage and perseverance to ensure communication lines are up and running during those times when the nation needs them the most,” said Rizza Maniego-Eala, Chief Finance Officer and Chief Risk Officer at Globe.

To support on-the-ground colleagues, Globe had deployed emergency response units to deliver first aid and important IT and communication support services. The company also set up free calling and charging stations in affected communities.

“When a disaster or calamity strikes, the speed of response is critical. This is why Globe continuously works on ways to limit the impact of disruption in its operations especially during disasters and calamities,” Maniego-Eala added.

During the Metro Manila Metrowide Shake Drill in July, Globe tested the ability to deploy to local government units its emergency communication solutions to help them manage the impact of a potential 7.2-magnitude earthquake. These solutions include support for extended outage like Cell-on-Wheels (COW); full mobile cell phone network system called Cellular-on-a-Light-Truck (COLT); Fuel Cells, alternative to diesel-powered generators; and Generators-on-a-Truck (GOAT).

Globe had also deployed its own portable two-way radio infrastructure and acquired prepaid satellite phones as well as implemented its Cell Broadband System, which is being used to release free disaster alerts.

Globe said it will continue to strengthen its disaster preparedness efforts to build resilience against calamities. It was in 2015 when Globe became the first telecommunications firm in the Philippines to be re-certified in Business Continuity on an enterprise-wide scale.

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