Ready for the next tsunami

Civil Defence Force officers practising a beach rescue during the earthquake and tsunami disaster simulation programme in Teluk Bahang, Penang. — Photos: CHAN BOON KAI/The Star

LEFT reeling and unprepared by the 2004 tsunami, Penang is intent on preparing for any future disasters.

As the loud wailing of the tsunami siren cut through the morning serenity of Teluk Bahang, residents taking part in a drill rushed from their homes to a nearby shelter.

Other volunteers played the role of injured victims to perfection as ambulances, fire engines and police cars rushed to the scene.

“This drill prepares us mentally to deal with the pain victims feel in a real situation,” said volunteer rescuer Alan Tan from Malaysian Red Crescent Society (MRCS).

On top of practising how to open up a rescue centre in an instant, teams from various agencies practised a beach rescue, including bringing victims on stretchers up steep slopes to safety.

More than 600 officers took part in the three-day earthquake and tsunami disaster simulation programme which began on July 25.

Government agencies and NGOs involved included the Fire and Rescue Department, the Royal Malaysia Police, Civil Defence Force, Penang Hospital, Penang St John Ambulance Malaysia, Penang MRCS,

Mattresses being laid out for the residents taking part in the drill.Mattresses being laid out for the residents taking part in the drill.

Buddhist Tzu-Chi Merits Society Malaysia and the Social Welfare Department.

Teluk Bahang assemblyman Zolkifly Md Lazim said the simulation programme aimed to help agencies coordinate their efforts so they could be well- prepared during an emergency.

“The residents nearby were told to leave their homes as soon as possible when they hear the tsunami siren.

“They were also taught how to communicate with the authorities if the communication system was down and also to stay safe.”

Residents staying at a shelter set up by Social Welfare Department officers.Residents staying at a shelter set up by Social Welfare Department officers.

Such drills also help rescuers spot potentially risky areas or problematic situations and this helps agencies to plan ahead and overcome specific issues that may crop up should an actual tsunami hit, added Zolkifly.

Zolkifly said the simulation exercise could reduce the risk of mortality and negative effects during a disaster.
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