APM prepares for monsoon season

Practice makes perfect: APM members taking part in a rescue exercise near Pulau Payar Marine Park in Langkawi. — ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

LANGKAWI: The Malaysian Civil Defence Force (APM) proved its mettle during an exercise in which its high-powered amphibious boats successfully made trips, at a high-speed, through a storm from the Pekan Rabu jetty on Langkawi Island to Pulau Payar, about 35km away.

During a recent day-long marine rescue exercise, APM members, who were trained for marine search and rescue efforts, were thrown into the rough sea where they brought “flood victims” to safety at the marine park.

The exercise was intended to test the men and their machines in preparation of the north-east monsoon.

About 50 APM members were briefed on methods to rescue victims in the water.

It was also an opportunity for APM members to refine their defence, evaluate their rescue and risk assessment skills, familiarise themselves with new equipment and foster a better bond among their rank holders.

APM disaster management and operation director Abdul Wahab Rahim said about 20,000 members were ready to serve until the north-east monsoon season ends next April.

“They will operate according to the needs of specific areas and are ready to be deployed,” he said.

Since September, Abdul Wahab said new assets such as diving gear and rescue equipment started to arrive to support their operations.

“The assets were acquired according to current needs and to replace existing equipment for routine use,” he said after launching a marine rescue exercise at Pulau Payar Marine Park in Kedah on Thursday.

He said the agency would cover safety and rescue aspects within a 3.7km radius of the island.

“We are testing the capabilities of boats which will respond to rescue (operations) and disasters at sea.

“Involvement of personnel in the training programme will be beneficial to tourists as well as locals,” he said, adding that the reopening of domestic travel had stimulated the tourism industry in Pulau Payar as well.

Abdul Wahab also said they were reactivating the team overseeing the safety of visitors who arrive here.

“International travellers will start arriving soon and we are anticipating a higher number of people here,” he said.

Prime Minister’s Department deputy secretary-general (management) Datuk Mohamad Ismail who was present, said APM was one of the over 60 agencies under the purview of the department.

“We prioritised delivery of allocations to APM as they need the equipment to operate smoothly and conduct training dealing primarily with emergencies and safety of the people.

“Their role towards ensuring national security is crucial and should not be neglected.

“We are working towards providing their allocation at the beginning of the year instead of the year-end,” he said.

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