Undoubtedly, sliding down a fire pole has got to be on the must-do-before-I-die list for many individuals; or at the very least, the ultimate playground equipment for children having watched Mickey’s Fire Brigade since 1935. But even a simple two-storey fixture can become dangerous if one does not know how to descend properly, resulting in fractures or broken appendages.
This was one of the few commonly overlooked lessons volunteers learnt at the first training session held by the Emergency Action Force of Malaysia, or PTCM, at Bandar Puchong Jaya’s Fire Department. PTCM serves as Malaysia’s very own rescue team in the event of unforeseeable catastrophes. This first training session held for the Petaling Jaya faction sought to equip willing civilians with the right knowledge to fight flames in the event of a blazing calamity.
“Malaysia has state-of-the-art facilities when it comes to emergencies. However, we must also acknowledge the fact that it takes time for authorities to arrive at the scene upon receiving a distress call and occasionally, the time taken to arrive at a location is time preciously wasted,” commented Mr. Alex Foo, chief officer for the Petaling Jaya district.
As with any crisis, time is a luxury none can afford to spend by simply standing on the sidelines. Dire situations call for immediate action; and sometimes, the best help comes from the people who are simply passing by. A small fire can grow to become a fiery monstrosity consuming a building in less than two minutes, so every second counts when it comes to rescuing. Nonetheless, not just anyone is able to jump into a burning building and start saving lives like a heroic Samaritan. PTCM hopes to nurture these invisible heroes by conducting a series of training sessions in order to provide the latter with essential tricks-of-the-trade; thus, more people will be prepared in the face of imminent danger.
“A lot of Malaysians have the right mindset and are well-intentioned, but not everyone knows how to react when disaster strikes. PTCM is here to help them with that.”
During the training session, squeaks resonated throughout the training venue as volunteers slid down the fire pole for the first time. Excited as they were, each was mindful of the appropriate steps to take when doing so and was carefully guided by the firemen, who kept an ever-watchful eye. As the day progressed, participants practiced with fire extinguishers and worked together to grapple surprisingly heavy water hoses, all the while maintaining a steady stance as water was pumped from a nearby fire hydrant.
“The activities are fun,” said Eme Maya from Puchong, armed with an extinguisher, “but I keep reminding myself that a real fire would be anything but fun. I’m glad I did this.”
For their second training session, volunteers were entreated to work alongside rescue dogs and to experience firsthand what it means to engage in a search-and-rescue operation. If working with a team of strangers is unnerving, imagine having an eighty-pound canine for a teammate, then, who reacts to every single tick or gesture produced by your anxious self. National Geographic documentaries make K9 training look easy, as if man’s best friend was naturally blessed with acute senses just for the sole purpose of tracking and locating missing articles or human beings—so much so that many forget our four legged friends also rely heavily on their handlers to provide accurate instructions.
“During an emergency, we need all the help we can get. More importantly, we need the right kind of help. For instance, if we were trying to locate victims of a collapsed building, we could really use a trained K9 team to assist us in pinpointing the victims’ location, and this is also important in the prevention of accidents especially when heavy machinery is involved,” explained Mr. Alex Foo.
PTCM is a community volunteer organization working hand-in-hand with rescue and emergency authorities to assist in emergency first response situations. It brings together people of all walks of life, and equips them with appropriate emergency response skills and people management skills to act quickly and appropriately in the face of an emergency, be it a car accident, mugging, fire or natural disasters. More importantly, it seeks to nurture a group of individuals capable of reacting expeditiously and efficiently upon receiving distress signals. With its experience and affiliations with the fire departments, police force, and hospitals, PTCM aspires to create a safer Malaysia by serving the local community in fostering likeminded ardent youths and assisting governmental agencies during emergencies.
PTCM Petaling Jaya is welcoming new volunteers with a community spirit who would like to contribute to their broader community in a positive way. Join us on www.facebook.com/PTCM.DP or contact our Liaison Officer, Mr. Linus Chee, at 011-1626-1880 if you’re interested in volunteering for a greater cause.