Over 5,000 nursing grads employed as firemen, BFP personnel qualify for national emergency duty – Villanueva

Published February 16, 2021, 1:53 PM

by Mario Casayuran

Senator Joel Villanueva on Tuesday, February 16, disclosed that  more than 5,000 fire officers of the Bureau of Fire Protection are nursing graduates that could be tapped as the backbone of a National Emergency Medical Services (EMS).

Sen. Joel Villanueva (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

During a Senate plenary session, Villanueva cited the overwhelming number of Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) personnel with “medical background,” in his call to maximize this human resource as the “foundation of a national EMS.”

Out of the 27,968 BFP personnel, 5,380 have health sciences degrees, 5,034 of whom are graduates of BS in Nursing, Villanueva said, citing a May 2020 BFP document. 

“Mayroon po sa hanay ng BFP na 79 graduates ng Radiologic Technology, 62 ang physical therapists, 56 na nagtapos ng Medical Technology, 42 ang pharmacists, 39 ang mga dentista, habang ang natitira ay mga graduates ng Nutrition, Midwifery, and Medical Laboratory Science (In the BFP list are  79 graduates of Radiologic Technology, 62 physical therapists, 56 finished medical technology, 42 pharmacists, 39 dentist while the others are graduates of Nutrition, Midwifery and Medical Laboratory Science),” Villanueva said.

In addition, 238 BFP officers have dual health-related degrees, “such as the 12 physicians in its ranks, and the 200 with master’s degrees. May 10 na nurses sa hanay ng BFP na mayroong specialized training sa surgical nursing (There are 10 nurses with specialized training in surgical nursing),” he added.

Villanueva, chairman of the Senate labor committee, said the nurses in the BFP rolls are nearly equal to number of nurses whom local governments hired in 2019 which was 5,975. 

“If one in six of fire officers today are graduates of health courses, shouldn’t we be exploring if this rich potential can be tapped for the public good?” Villanueva said in interpellating Sen. Ronald de la Rosa who was defending the proposed BFP Modernization Act on the Senate floor on Monday afternoon.

The bill already lists emergency medical services as BFP’s mandate but Villanueva wanted this “expanded and well-funded that it becomes a major function of BFP alongside fire prevention.

He said the spate of road crashes underscore the need for an EMS.

Asked by Villanueva if how many “jaws-of-life”–the hydraulic rescue apparatus that pries open wreckage such as crashed vehicles like a pair of giant scissors–the BFP has, De la Rosa replied, “only 46 at present.” 

That, Villanueva pointed out, underscores the need to prioritize EMS vehicles in BFP equipment modernization.

He revealed that the agency has only 122 working ambulances.

Villanueva said he will introduce amendments that would “expand and explain” the important role of EMS in BFP’s future.