KUCHING: The fourth International Major Incident Response Exercise Competition (Imirex) saw 31 teams pitting their search and rescue skills against each other at the Sarawak Cultural Village in Santubong near here.
The participants included nine international teams from neighbouring countries such as Japan, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines as well as seven from rescue agency departments.
Communication and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek, who opened the three-day competition on Tuesday, said it started out as a platform to test the physical and mental strength of responders in a disaster-simulated environment.
It was created by Prof Datuk Seri Dr Abu Hassan Asaari Abdullah, the father of modern emergency medicine in Malaysia, who realised the need for a robust emergency response system in dealing with disasters.
“This evolved into a competition called Imirex, which is in its fourth edition this year and has been a regular feature in the calendar of events of the emergency medical and trauma services in Malaysia,” Ahmad Shabery said.
“Participants battle it out to be the best-prepared emergency medical response team with robust, resilient team members in an adverse, disaster-simulated environment.
“Modules in Imirex will test and improve their physical and emotional strength in the face of major incidents despite limited resources.”
He said this year’s edition marked the first time multiple rescue agencies such as the police, Fire and Rescue Department, Civil Defence Department, St John’s Ambulance and Red Crescent Malaysia had been invited to take part in the competition.
In addition, he said this was the first time Imirex had been held in Sarawak and was jointly organised with the state Health Department.
“Sarawak was chosen due to its wonderful natural surroundings amidst lush greenery, flora and fauna. Sarawak offers unique challenges to every participant in Imirex 2014.
“All the teams will compete in an environment unique to Sarawak, providing them with the opportunity to experience real-life situations of major incidents,” Ahmad Shabery said.
He added that the competition emphasised ongoing skill training and teaching and would be judged by disaster response experts from around the world.
“We hope that the experience and knowledge you gain during the competition will be beneficial not only to yourself but victims of major incidents and disasters that you will be managing in the future,” he said.