Bomba marks maiden launch of MOCSAR team in Mulu

Khiruddin presenting letter of appointment for MOCSAR to Gerstner.

By Nancy Nais

MULU, July 12: The Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) Malaysia recorded history yet again today after the launch of the country’s first Mountain Cave Search and Rescue (MOCSAR) team in Mulu, Sarawak.

The drowning incident which took the lives of a 20-year-old tourist guide Roviezal Robin and a Dutch tourist at Deer Cave, Mulu National Park on July 12, 2019 was a test for Bomba Sarawak to find an immediate solution so that any incidents can be addressed within a short span of time.

Similar to the forest fire in Bukit Batu Bungan, near Mulu Caves, Bomba Sarawak must respond to any emergency cases as fast as they can.

Bomba Sarawak director Khirudin Drahman said this team takes its place among the Malaysian Fire and Rescue Department’s specialist forces such as Special Tactical Operation Rescue Team (STORM), Multi Skill Team (MUST) and Emergency Medical Rescue Services (EMRS).

“The department had pushed for a MOCSAR team since 2017 in order for them to carry out search and rescue training which involves the STORM at Mulu National Park for a week.

“After several discussions and proposals, the department finally approved for MOCSAR team to be established in Mulu National Park,” Khirudin said when speaking to DayakDaily at the appointment of MOCSAR personnel ceremony in Mulu National Park today

A total of 10 licensed tourist guides and porters were identified and appointed as MOCSAR members, which will be headed by Mulu National Park manager Hein Gerstner.

The team members are senior guides Kenneth Nilong, 38, Undi Mamat, 39, and Harvey Faizer Joseph, 33. The rest are Mulu National Park electrician Kenneth Simon, 34, boatman Zackius Beti, 51 and porters Willvien Robin, 26, Jimmy Jarau, 32, Layang Barasap, 32, Patrick Mani, 20, and Mohammad Shaufik Abdullah, 37.

All the 10 appointed MOCSAR personnel with Khirudin (standing fifth left).

“The team will undergo various forms of training and modules of at least 12 hours per week. This is to ensure that they can continuously improve their skills. They must complete at least 60 hours per month for the first six months,” Khirudin pointed out.

In contrast with MOSAR Kinabalu team whose scope of work is only focusing on mountain rescue duties, Khirudin said this MOCSAR team is also responsible to extinguish structural, forest fires and other rescue duties such as animals.

On top of that, the team will be given the training to provide early first aid treatment for victims who are injured while climbing mountains and caves.

Acting as first responders, they will be trained in communication skills as this is necessary to facilitate communication with the State Operations Centre when they respond to any incident.

“We are collaborating very closely with Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) and Mulu National Park. A total of 10 MOCSAR personnel entrusted with tasks relating to rescue and emergency aspects on Mulu were selected from among the experienced mountain and cave guides and porters to undertake rescue operations in the steep and hilly areas.

“These personnel will be our auxiliary firefighters (PBB),” Khirudin added.

Khirudin having a light conversation with Layang Barasap.

On another note, he further explained that the nearest fire station to Mulu National Park is in Marudi, a journey which will take about 10 hours to reach on a 60hp engine boat.

“We have to be ready at all times. Accidents and mishaps can happen anytime and anywhere. With the special unit, when an accident happened, our MOCSAR team can be there immediately to conduct search and rescue, while waiting for us to arrive via sea which will take about eight to ten hours or helicopter.

“However, deploying helicopter is also subject to weather condition,” Khirudin said.

With the MOCSAR team, it will definitely give tourists a higher degree of confidence to visit Mulu National Park and at the same time, boost Sarawak’s tourism industry.

Apart from ‘being ready at all times’, Khirudin opined that prevention against any untoward incidents must also be prioritised.

Among those present at the historical event were Sarawak assistant director of Operations Tiong Ling Hii, Head of Zone 6 Law Poh Kiong, Marudi fire station chief Maureen Sim and  Gerstner.

Meanwhile, 30 units of fire extinguishers were also presented to three villages Kg Melinau, Kg Batu Bungan and Kampung Long Iman.

In honour of the late Roviezal, Khirudin also presented a letter of appreciation to his father Robin Lagang.

On June 23, 2015, Bomba Malaysia formed a Mountain Search and Operation (Mosar) team out of 20 Kinabalu mountain guides of Sabah Parks as auxiliary firefighters after an earthquake that occurred in Ranau and Mount Kinabalu on May 5, 2015.-DayakDaily