Journalist’s son figures in surfing accident, here’s why we need to make first aid and emergency response a priority

In a Facebook post that has gone viral journalist Karen Davila shares their experience during their recent visit to the Philippines’ surfing capital Siargao. A few days ago her son figured in a surfing accident while supposedly being trained by a man referred by the hotel where she was staying.

A few minutes into the training session her son came running to her bloodied, with bruises and cuts everywhere.



In the Facebook post she narrated the details of the accident.

“I WAS SPEECHLESS. My son’s whole chest, was bleeding from crisscrossing abrasions (as you can see on the photo above) with a deeper gash under the right rib, clearly from hitting the rocks on the shallow waters, his chin bruised and covered with blood, his right hand in cuts like that from a small knife.”

Her son’s surfing trainer disappeared at this point and left them to fend for themselves. This is when she realized that there was no clinic in the area, no first aid treatment facility available, no first aid kit on stand by, no lifeguard, no staff to administer first aid, yes in a place where people flock to surf. Yes, at this time of year, what’s normally called peak season when families flock to beaches in droves.

“What got me very angry was Jocol Valerio, the trainer – suddenly dissappeared! My husband said after showing him the sari sari store where to buy the Betadine, cotton and gauze, he left them. No one was there to assist my husband or my son who was bleeding! No nurse, no first aid, NO ONE.

A couple minutes after, the owners of Isla Cabana came with a van, presumably after hearing the news from the locals. Owners Dingdong and Mildred Pabillore offered to drive us to the nearest hospital, which was at Dapa….would you believe, some 45 minutes away by car! Imagine if we had to take a tricycle!”

After her ordeal she found out that the surf trainer referred to her at the hotel is not a certified surf instructor but a motocycle driver who sidelines as a surf instructor for extra cash. The “nearest” hospital is almost an hour away from the surf area where people flock on a regular basis.

Ofcourse like clockwork, online parent shamers flocked the Facebook post like a swarm of bees. Some blaming the parents for letting their kids engage in such extreme sport, others blaming the mother for not checking on the surf instructor’s background first.

While yes, there is much to learn from this experience for parents who take their kids to the beach, the more important issue here that we all need to address is the lack of first aid response.

If establishments, will invite people to a place supposedly to relax and shell out thousands “to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city” they have to make sure that in case of emergencies these families will be attended to properly and on time.

This is especially true for establishments that invite and welcome families with young children. When parents check in they are assuming they will be accomodated properly and this accomodation should include having first aid facilities ready in case of emergencies.

A place flocked by tourists on a regular basis, which will rake in profits for businesses and virtually everyone around should at least have a clinic nearby to administer basic first aid treatment.

We deserve first aid facilities. We deserve to have people who will respond to our needs in case of emergencies. Families deserve that.

What’s even more problematic is even big posh commercial establishments that charge an arm and a leg do not have first aid facilities, no personnel to respond, not even a first aid kit on stand by. Yes even in big posh commercial establishments, go figure. To say us consumers are being shortchaged is a major understatement.

The presence or absence of a first aid facility and emergency response could mean life and death in case of emergencies. A first aid facility could save someone’s life.

Yes we need to remind parents to watch over their children carefully, but we also need to remind establishments of their responaibilities to consumers as well.

If they can’t make emergency response a priority then they should just stop inviting people to visit.




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