Tour operators form emergency team to assist rescue missions

KOTA KINABALU: An emergency response team (ERT) comprising tour operators has been set up in western Kota Belud district.

The ERT would among others, act as coordinators with security forces as well as government agencies in emergency cases involving tourists within Kota Belud.

Sabah Tourist Association (STA) chairman Tonny Chew said the ERT would also complement and assist the government in search and rescue missions involving tourists especially with regards to logistics and crews, weather or security information whenever necessary as well as to disseminate information when required.

“The ERT will also play a facilitation role for the tour operators in setting up their own respective ERT at operators’ level as well as in the implementation of Safe Operating Procedures (SOP) to prevent accidents or emergency situation,” he said.

Chew said the ERT that held its inaugural meeting on April 6 under the purview of STA as one of its sub-committees.

“Each of the ERT members has been selected as team commander, secretariat, treasury, search and rescue, first aid, logistics and training as well as communication respectively,” he said.

According to Tonny, the key to the ERT’s existence is the involvement of each member in maintaining a 24-hour standby search and rescue (SAR) which could be dispatched as immediately as possible to assist the government SAR team.

“The SAR team’s role of the ERT is being performed on a biweekly rotation basis by each of the registered tour operators primarily to provide logistics (boats and equipment) as well as crews.

At this initial stage, all tour operators have agreed to contribute financially to operate the SAR and in the future STA will assist the ERT to source funds from the relevant government agencies to make its operation viable.

Trainings particularly in the field of search and rescue as well as first aid will be conducted as soon as possible to ensure that the ERT could function efficiently.

“The ERT is also planning to hold its first Emergency Drill for sea emergency scenario in May off the coast of Kota Belud,” Chew said.

Currently 10 tour operators, mostly those operating Mantanani Island bases are members of the ERT.

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