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6 female divers complete 3-mile endurance swim; prepare to be front-liners in PCG-SAR operations

MANILA, Jan. 29 — Six members of the newly-organized first-ever Philippine Coast Guard’s All-Female Rescue Squad completed their three-mile endurance swim on Friday with gears as they prepared to become the new front-liners in the PCG Search and Rescue (SAR) operations.

Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo, PCG commandant, said the swimmers started from the Mall of Asia in Pasay City up to PCG headquarters in South Harbor, Manila early Friday morning.

The endurance swim is one of the requirements prior to the qualification dive in Batangas, tentatively scheduled on the midweek of February 2011.

Seawoman First Class Melania Dave and Seawoman Second Class Arnie Jarabillo were the first to arrive, clocking two hours and 20 minutes, using either sidestroke or tactical swim.

The other PCG female divers who completed the three-mile swim are Ensign Nenette Ellyn Paiton, PO3 Mary Ann Gines, SW1 Melouna Cosing, and SW2 Christy Camins.

This initiative of the PCG to qualify female rescue swimmers/divers in the elite Coast Guard Special Operations Group (SOG) under the command of Lieutenant Commander Marco Antonio Gines is another milestone in the PCG Gender and Development (GAD) Program.

The program ensures equity in the recruitment, assignment, training, promotion and health maintenance program of the PCG.

Tamayo lauded the splendid performance of the all-female squad and challenged them into subsequent deployments in the PCG’s strategic operational areas for search and rescue, maritime law enforcement and security missions as the PCG continues to encourage more female members of the PCG to join the SOG.

The PCG’ search and rescue (SAR) operations will no longer be manned by all-men divers as female divers will soon join them in the frontline in saving lives.

“Before, only male divers are on the frontline of saving lives. Then we will see female divers doing SAR mission in times of heavy flooding and ship-related incidents,” Gines said.

He said this is the first time the PCG is incorporating females to their previously all-male elite divers group to provide equal opportunity to women.

Gines stressed the need for female divers so the female victims of disasters would not feel uncomfortable during the SAR operations.

“We need to be gender sensitive. There were instances wherein we had to rescue women who are wearing wet clothes. We think that it would be better if the women from SOG would be the ones to assist them,” he said.

He also said that some victims are also experiencing trauma and PCG women can best help them.

"We would also rely on their patience which would increase their tolerance level,” he added. (PNA)


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