The graduation of the first batch of the Wilderness Search and Rescue (WISAR) Course was held last July 20 at the Trinity College of Asia.
WISAR is a six-weekend course organized by different rescue groups.
Ted Esguerra, one of the organizers, told SecurityMatters that the course was created following what happened to Victor Joel Ayson, a mountaineer who went missing and eventually found dead in Mount Maculot in Batangas earlier this April. Esguerra said that he, along with other teams, pledged to create an outdoor search and rescue which eventually led to the creation of the WISAR course.
“We offer this to Victor,” said Esguerra.
Esguerra explained that the concept is that “a mountaineer could be a disaster manager.”
Esguerra said, “During those 6 weekends, we subjected them to the harshness and adversities of the wilderness. We trained them on navigation, map reading, landslide operations, river crossing, patient packaging, basic life support and basic trauma life support.” He adds that training also included camp management, water rescue, mountain search and rescue, and the incident command system.
Esguerra added that they did this so mountaineers can have the knowledge to save lives in the wilderness and to have mountaineering teams who can perform life-saving procedures.
The 64 graduates came from different backgrounds including media personnel, entrepreneurs, outdoor photographers, mountaineers, and emergency responders.
Some WISAR graduates, even while on training, took part in the rescue operations of mountaineer Joey Vergara who was reported missing in Mt. Malipunyo last June.
Then WISAR students Zeus Ruiz, Weller Fernandez, and Lawrence Sagabaen along with Mario Cabungcal, a local guide, were able to find and assist in the rescue of the mountaineer who was found unable to move and severely wounded by a hunting trap.
Vergara was rescued two days after being stranded and was eventually able to fully recover from his injuries.
Cabungcal, a tricycle driver and mountain guide, was present in the WISAR graduation ceremony and was given recognition for his efforts in assisting in the rescue of Vergara.