Bomba’s four-legged officers to be flown when necessary

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By Nancy Nais

SERIAN, Nov 30: The state’s Fire and Rescue Department Malaysia (K9) Detection Unit will use the department’s air unit (helicopter) for operations whenever it is deemed necessary.

State director Khirudin Drahman said this was to facilitate faster search and rescue (SAR) operations especially for cases in northern Sarawak such as Miri and Bintulu.

The K9 unit is currently based in Serian fire station, which will be used for deployment across the state, while the air unit is based in Miri.

“Serian fire station is an ideal location for K9 base, as it will facilitate the movements of these dogs between Kuching, Sri Aman, Sarikei and Sibu,” Khirudin said after the unit’s first training in the state closing ceremony today.

K9 training in progress.

As Sarawak is a huge state, and northern zones are very far away, it requires more than 15 hours to travel by road from Serian.

“For these dogs, they cannot travel too long on the road. Just like us human being, these dogs will get tired and unable to start SAR immediately,” he said, adding that the dogs also need motivation and boosters to work.

The long awaited call of duty for these four-legged officers in Sarawak is highly anticipated by the department to assist in solving SAR and fire investigation cases.

K9 training in progress.

The six trained K9, comprise four English Springer Spaniels (named Wilf, Sue, Bella and Cliff), a Border Collie named Daisy, and a Labrador named Bailey that were flown in from the United Kingdom to Sarawak on Oct 13, and they officially began duty on Nov 13.

They will be divided into three disciplines, namely fire investigation, SAR wilderness, and SAR cadaver.

The fire investigation discipline serves to detect the cause of a fire, particularly in arson cases.

The SAR wilderness discipline is meant to track victims in the forest, while the SAR cadaver discipline serves to track dead victims either on land or collapsed buildings or in rivers and lakes.

Khirudin said the dogs were now ready to take part in operations.

From left, Khirudin with members of the Bomba K9 team, Steven Ambu, Dennis Augustine, Maxwell Joe Richard Sampa, Dominic Girai, Peter Huang, Kenneth Masir and Kaya Bangkong.

In fact, not long after their one month quarantine period, Daisy and her handler Dominic Bahong Micky participated in their first wilderness operation at Kampung Entingan, Samarahan on Nov 25.

“Alhamdullilah, the missing victim, Dublin Andrew, 55, was found after five hours,” Khirudin said.

He added that the number of SAR cases were steadily increasing each year.

The department recorded a total number of 107 SAR cases in 2015, followed by 112 cases in 2016, 144 cases in 2017 and 112 cases as at November 2018.

Bomba’s first K9 unit was established in Kuala Lumpur in 2003. It has proven useful in operations such as fire investigations and SAR.

Group photo of K9 Sarawak handlers with Khirudin (standing centre). He is flanked by Donny and Bomba Academy Sarawak commandant Sabarudin Mohd (left).

Bomba K9 Malaysia chief Supt Donny Chap is confident that the team in Sarawak will bring with them their experiences and success stories during their years and service in Kuala Lumpur unit.

“As a special and new unit here, it is my great hope for K9 Sarawak unit to be able to provide a positive impact in assisting fire investigation and SAR operations in the state,” Donny said in his speech.

He also add that it was their hope that the department would look into the further needs to enhance the K9 facilities, hire more handlers and assistant handlers. — DayakDaily