Volunteers ever ready to help

KOTA BARU: Saving a man who was trapped between rocks in Sungai Balah for 10 hours – five years ago – was among the unforgettable rescue missions for veteran volunteer firefighter Roslan Mat Nordin, 51.

The victim had been trapped upstream since 3pm but authorities were only alerted five hours later because there was no mobile network coverage in the area, Roslan said.

The volunteers took an hour to reach the site and trekked on foot for another 45 minutes, carrying heavy tools.

Roslan said the victim was suffering from the cold and his lips had turned blue by the time rescuers found him around 9.45pm.

“At one point, the victim cried, saying he was willing to have his legs amputated as he could no longer bear the pain due to having half of his body submerged in water for such a long time.

“Luckily, we managed to save both his life and limbs by 1am,” he said.

Roslan, who is the longest serving volunteer firefighter in Kelantan, joined the Jeli Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services Associa­tion when it was first set up 27 years ago.

He said volunteers did not receive an allowance but he was proud of the role he played.

“I am very happy when I can help people who are in danger,” the father of five said.

Roslan said the Jeli volunteer firefighter squad was set up on Oct 2, 1990, long before the first fire station was built in the district in 2001.

The idea was mooted by the district council and land office after the great fire in Jeli that razed 13 shophouses in January 1990, he added.

“The closest fire station at the time was 50km away in Tanah Merah.

“With the setting up of the volunteer firefighter squad, we served a wide area covering a 50km radius, right up to the Grik border and Dabong,” he said.

Roslan said he was the only one from the pioneer batch who is still serving.

Another volunteer firefighter, Muhamad Faizul Ab Rajak, 24, said he found fulfilment in rescuing people.

Muhamad Faizul, who is unemployed, travels 20km from his house in Melor to the fire station in Kota Baru.

“We join the volunteer squad knowing full well there is no pay. But we do get experience and skills on how to rescue others,” he said.

He and fellow volunteer Fakrul Abdullah, 20, rescued two unconscious women from a fire recently.

Kelantan has 17 teams of volunteers based in 13 fire and rescue stations.

The dedication and selflessness of the volunteer firefighters are a source of pride for Kelantan Volunteer Firefighter Squad Branch senior assistant superintendent Mohd Faizol Hisham Abdullah.

He said most of the 546 volunteers were self-employed, unemployed or odd-job workers. “But their passion and determination never ceases to amaze us,” he said.

Mohd Faizol added that the department provided a RM3,000 annual grant for each team that fulfilled key performance requirements for the year.