State bomba looking into setting up specialised search and rescue unit for Mulu

Khirudin (second left) presents a certificate to an auxiliary firefighter who will be based at Lawas STOLport, witnessed by Sarawak Bomba assistant director of operations Tiong Ling Hii (left) and Airport Fire Rescue Services general manager Abdul Malik Mohd Yunus (second right).

By Nancy Nais

KUCHING, July 24: The Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) has started looking into Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah’s suggestion of establishing a special search and rescue unit (MoSAR) for Gunung Mulu National Park.

MoSAR which is the abbreviation for Mountain Search and Rescue Team, will be part of the Bomba Task Force together with existing special forces such as Multi Skill Team (MUST), Emergency Medical Rescue Services (EMRS) and Special Tactical Operation and Rescue Team of Malaysia (STORM).

Abdul Karim had recently reiterated his call for all tourism spots, especially eco-tourism places like those in Mulu and Niah, to each have their own Fast Response Team (FRT).

This came after an incident in Deer Cave in Mulu recently, which claimed the lives of tourist guide Roviezal Robin and Dutch tourist Peter Hans Hoverkamp.

Bomba Sarawak director Khirudin Drahman said they are currently in discussion with the relevant authorities, and if the state government agrees, they will set the unit as soon as possible.

“I agree that we have to be ready at all times. Accidents and mishaps can happen anytime, anywhere. If we had the special unit and an accident happened, our searchers and rescuers can be there immediately, rather than having to wait for the next 12 hours,” he told reporters after the installation ceremony for nine new auxiliary firefighters to be stationed at Short Take Off Landing Airports (STOLports) today.

He further explained that the existing special units were unable to deploy to Mulu on that fateful day because the incident occurred late in the evening and there was bad weather; thus their helicopter was unable to take off.

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

“As an example, currently there is no control on tourists guides bringing their clients in or out of the caves, regardless of good or bad weather,” he said, adding that local authorities may need to consider some standard operating procedure (SOP) on that as one of the ways to prevent accidents.

The department’s auxiliary firefighter force established MoSAR on June 23, 2015, in Sabah after the earthquake incident at Mount Kinabalu.

Mount Kinabalu’s mountain guides who also became auxiliary firefighters were appointed as part of the first batch of MoSAR. — DayakDaily