Bomba’s air wing boys in East Malaysia on cloud nine

By Nancy Nais

MIRI, March 14: The Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) air wing unit in East Malaysia’s recognition by the Japanese and Australian government indicates that their medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) and rescue operations are now recognised internationally.

The unit, based in Miri, recently received a recognition letter from the Japanese government for rescuing their citizen Akihiro Noda on Dec 18 from Gunung Mulu National Park.

Akihiro, 25, suffered broken ribs and other injuries after he fell while climbing a peak near Camp 4 with a fellow Japanese researcher and three local porters at 9pm on Dec 15.

Mulu National Park alerted Marudi Fire and Rescue Station on Dec 17 after Noda was brought to Camp 4 by the porters.

The air wing team, together with Bomba’s Special Air Services (PASKUB), were deployed immediately.

However, extremely bad weather forced the rescue team to postpone carrying out a Medevac operation from Camp 4, which is 1,820 metres above sea level.

They were only able to airlift Akihiro on Dec 18, and he was swiftly taken from the mountain to Miri Hospital, touching down in the city at 8.40am.

On February 20, the Ambassador of Japan in Kuala Lumpur, Makio Miyagawa, wrote a letter of appreciation on behalf of the Japanese government to the air wing unit.

The letter was individually presented to the MEDEVAC Bomba 565 crew yesterday (March 13).

“This recognition from the Japanese government is an important indicator for the level of rescue and services provided by Bomba air wing. Such recognition is also very much appreciated by the crew members,” Bomba Subang Air Unit senior superintendent 1 Roslan Aziz said after the presentation ceremony yesterday.

Apart from this case, one of the biggest operations, which is also very significant for the air wing unit in Miri, was the Mount Kinabalu earthquake in 2015 in Sabah.

“I would also like to emphasise that the presence of Bomba air unit in Miri is not only significant for the local community but it has an impact on the tourism sector.

“We’ve received feedback from tourists that they feel very safe if they climb Mount Mulu because should anything happen, there is the air unit to rescue them.

“This has definitely put an added value in the tourism sector as tourists are confident to visit and hike,” Roslan added, as he also spoke about the unit’s hope that the state government would grant them a permanent air wing base in Miri.

Meanwhile, Miri air unit’s detachment commander Major Zahrolayali Abd Talib also shared the chronological sequence of the crew’s Medevac on Akihiro.

Crew composition
Pilot & mission commander: Lt Colonel Khairul Anuar Shamsuddin.
Pilot & safety pilot : Major Zahrolayali Abd Talib.
Flight engineer: TPgB Zulkarnain Othman.
Air quartermaster: PB Hazian Fizuan, PB Kevin Kanaly, PB Dicto Jaxnatile
PASKUB: PBK I Azman Rasip, PB Mohd Sufian Mat Hussin
Engineering Officer: PKPgB Mohd Nurul Redzuan Mohd Taib

Dec 17, 2018
10am – Departure from Miri air base.
10.45am – Arrived Mulu park. Weather was cloudy with strong wind.
11.15am – Aircraft was established at 5,000ft. Cloud has covered Mulu’s peak. Camp 4 is slightly below the peak. Due to strong wind and the unpredicted wind direction, our crew had difficulty landing. When we’ve identified the landing point at camp 4, strong winds started coming from various directions. The crew made two attempts to establish hovering at 5,885 ft above camp 4 landing point but they failed due to the strong wind. When the cloud started to clear from the landing point, the crew decided a third attempt to approach the landing point at camp 4 despite strong turbulence. They successfully released one PASKUB officer by winching him to the ground but not the second officer as thick clouds started to block the pilot’s views. Knowing how critical the situation can be as the pilots are unable to see clearly at their reference point and surrounding areas, they decide to take off immediately and land at Mulu airport. By 5pm, there was no improvement in the weather, prompting the rescue team to continue the operations the following day.

Dec 18, 2018
7am – Mulu airport was covered with low cloud, which is a normal condition in the interior areas.
7.30am – The Medevac crew took off from Mulu airport, climbing to about 5,500ft, and they could see Mulu peak very clearly. The weather condition was calm prompting the crew to proceed to the landing point at camp 4. With their communication set (walkie talkies and aircraft radio), the crew could communicate to confirm their PASKUB officer, the victim, climber and porters were there waiting. Although the wind condition looks calm, we’ve asked our PASKUB officer to activate the smoke device so we can see the wind direction accurately. After that, we were able to hover over the camp 4 landing point and winched out the stretcher using cinching cable.
We successfully winched the victim up to the aircraft, followed by another climber, three porters and finally our PASKUB officer.
The victim was immediately airlifted and arrived at Miri Hospital at 8.40am. — DayakDaily