Students ‘stranded’ on Penang Hill

Alternative route: Rescue personnel leading some of the passengers from the stalled tram at the Penang Hill.

IT was an eye-opening trip up Penang Hill for some 54 students as they took part in the Penang Hill Corporation (PHC) emergency response training programme.

Island College of Technology’s Diploma in Human Resources student Fariz Ezlan, 19, said that he now knew that the key to survivingan emergency on a stalled tram was to remain calm and to let the authorities do their job.

“The drill was good. I will definitely know what to do if I come across a similar situation the next time,” he said at the foot of Penang Hill in Air Itam recently.

Fellow collegemate Nor Athirah Amran, 19, said that all the personnel involved in ‘evacuating’ the passengers were efficient.

“I’m pleasantly surprised that they managed to get all of us out in such a short period of time,” she said.

Long way down: Passengers taking the narrow staircase by the side of the funicular railway tracks at Penang Hill.
Long way down: Passengers taking the narrow staircase by the side of the funicular railway tracks at Penang Hill.

PHC internal operation division manager Baharin Annuar Abu Bakar said that with the exercise, they managed to identify a few setbacks in the evacuation of the passengers.

“We noticed the route to the upper tunnel station could only fit one car at any one time and not two cars as it is narrow.

“Therefore, ferrying passengers took longer. The steep condition of the hill is also a challenging setback.

“We definitely need to think of ways to further improve our response time,” he said.

Baharin said it took about 17 minutes to clear all 70 passengers (observers and students) from the tram to the lower substation.

“It took seven minutes for the response team to arrive and start clearing the passengers,” he said.

He added that the exercise was a bit more challenging than what they had imagined.

“This was a very good experience not only for our team here in Penang Hill but also for all of the other agencies that participated.

“I am very sure that when they go back to their respective workplaces, they will discuss on ways to improve the response time better,” he said.

Baharin also said that some of the college students were requested to wear the hijab so that the team could learn and experience responding to passengers with a certain mode of dressing.

The agencies that participated in the emergency response training were the Fire and Rescue stations from Paya Terubong, Perak Road, Bagan Jermal; the state Health Depart-ment; St John Ambulance; the Penang Hill Fire and Rescue voluntary unit; the Penang Hill Residents Association; and students from Kolej Islam Teknologi Antarabangsa in Penang and the Island College of Technology.

PHC has two rounds of annual maintenance in a year, once in January and another inJune.

This is the first time PHC had conducted the emergency response training with actual passengers in the tram.

Previously the training had only involved PHC staff members.

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