PETALING JAYA: She used to recoil in fear whenever her firefighting team was summoned to catch snakes.
“I was so scared when I saw it behind a door,” said Senior Fire Officer II Noor Fazida Tina Mohamad Noor, recounting her first experience in dealing with a cobra that had slithered into a house in Shah Alam in 2015.
“But later on, I asked myself what would people think of a terrified firefighter who is supposed to help others?” she said.
That thought prompted her to learn more about the reptile and its behaviour.
Noor Fazida Tina later joined a month-long course to help the department document how to handle the snakes.
Today, Noor Fazida Tina, 37, is the first and only female among four trainers in the King Cobra Squad that started in 2015.
Since then, she has been involved in several operations to remove snakes, including venomous species such as a 3m King Cobra that slithered into a house in Batu Arang last year.
Noor Fazida Tina said she learnt a lot from her teammates including the late Abu Zarin Hussin, who became a social media celebrity for his calm demeanour when handling snakes.
Abu Zarin died last year after being bitten by a cobra.
“He was supportive and taught us well. He would handle situations calmly and bravely,” she said of her mentor.
But leading a team of snake wranglers had not been Noor Fazida Tina’s original career path.
She was working at a hotel when she received an offer to join the Fire and Rescue Department in 2004. She accepted it as a tribute to her late father, who was also a firefighter.
“My father died during a search and rescue mission while I was still in school. And for a long time, I blamed the department for taking my father away.
“However, it was my mother who helped me get over the grief,” said the eldest of six siblings.
Noor Fazida Tina has been with the department for about 15 years. She has grown accustomed to leading teams in operations especially those involving poisonous creatures.
Her leadership skill has earned her praise from her superiors.
“She is very positive and capable of handling any situation. I am very proud that she is part of my team,” said Rawang fire station chief Zaidi Ahtan.
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