KUALA KRAI: When people go through a devastating experience like a massive flood that leaves them trapped, frightened and hungry for days, sometimes, something positive emerges as a result.
Villagers in Kampung Laloh in Kuala Krai have come together and set up their own rescue team comprising 30 villagers.
They have two new 14-foot boats (in addition to the three small personal boats owned by villagers) and 30 life jackets for rescue missions.
Team members have been trained on how to manoeuvre a boat during strong currents and rescue people from the water.
They have also been given basic emergency first aid skills.
For the coming flood season, they are readying “grab bags” with easy-to-eat food and essential supplies that will last them a few days.
They have put in place their own kampung-style early warning system to inform villagers to evacuate if it starts to flood, and where to go.
Last December, most of Kampung Laloh was under floodwaters.
Their usual evacuation centres got flooded and panicky villagers needed to be evacuated again.
In the end, almost all of the 2,000 villagers were crammed into one school.
Of the 530 houses in the village, 433 were either damaged or washed away. Some 150 cars and 300 motorbikes were wrecked, too.
Now, thanks to practical training and resources from Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI) and Mercy Malaysia to build resilience and preparedness in local communities, the villagers have boats, walkie talkies, “grab bags” and more importantly, survival skills.
Between Oct 15 and 18, nine kampung heroes from Kampung Laloh and 21 others from nearby Kampung Manjur, Kampung Pemberian and Kampung Karangan were brought to Tanjung Malim by UPSI for training.
“We took them whitewater rafting at the rapids in Sungai Sungkai.
“We made them jump into the water so that they know what it is like to be in swirling strong waters and we trained them on how to save themselves and how to rescue people,” said Mohamad Hairi Abu Hasan, who is one of the trainers from UPSI.
UPSI director Dr Mastura Muhammad said the villagers also learnt how to treat minor injuries.
The nine villagers from Kampung Laloh then returned to their village and passed their knowledge on to another 21 fellow residents.
Kampung Laloh Rescue Team chairman Nazari Jusoh said they had a simulation training on Nov 14 in a river on how to save people who were floating away and how to lift people onto the boat.
“We’ve adapted what we learnt to suit our kampung. We use a sarong to carry the injured onto the boat,” said Nazari, 41.
Last weekend, Mercy Malaysia was at Kampung Laloh to conduct a Disaster Risk Reduction workshop.
“Villagers are the first responders in any emergency. So, what we are doing is to build resilience and preparedness within the community itself so that they can help themselves first,” said Mercy Malaysia’s (non-medical) vice-president Nor Azam Abu Samah.