Posts Tagged ‘disaster response’

Fire drill too real for seven

Monday, March 30th, 2009

An annual fire drill at Komtar in Penang saw almost 2,700 employees from various government departments rushing down from as high as Level 58 of the building on foot.

State assistant medical officer Dr Saiful Azlan Sharif said there were seven real casualties out of over 30 mock injury cases in the drill. “Most of them fainted out of panic. They were sent to the Penang Hospital to receive medical attention,” he said.

Among those who walked downstairs and had to wait under the morning sun during the drill on Friday which lasted more than an hour were state executive councillor Chow Kon Yeow and the Chief Minister’s chief of staff Jeff Ooi.

Chow said he was on his way up to his office at Level 52 when he bumped into Ooi and decided to accompany him for breakfast at Level Two. “If I had not bumped into him, I would already be in my office and would have to take a long 15 to 20-minute walk down the stairs with my staff,” Chow said.

Another employee at Komtar, Nioh Chu Chai, who is Penang Tourism Development, Culture, Arts and Heritage Committee chairman Danny Law’s special assistant, was not so lucky as he had to walk down 53 storeys. “It was tiring but quite exciting as it was my first drill here. Most of the staff did not panic when they heard the alarm and left their offices in an orderly manner,” said Nioh. “Some of them even helped to inform their colleagues and made sure nobody was left behind,” he said when approached at a carpark near Komtar.

The drill, called Ops Ex Duga, started at 8.45am. The fire and rescue department was informed of the ‘fire’ at 8.53am and the first to respond was the Lebuh Pantai fire station followed by firemen from the Bayan Baru, Jalan Perak and Bagan Jermal stations.

The department’s deputy director Mohd Razam Taja Rahim said eight fire trucks and 10 utility vehicles with 32 personnel were deployed for the drill. “We also co-operated with the police, the Penang Hospital, St John’s Ambulance and the Malaysian Red Crescent Society.

“In actual fires, we would involve the voluntary fire fighting units as well,” he told a press conference after the drill concluded at 10.25am.

He said the Komtar building was completely vacated at 9.30am with the fire, which was staged on Level 45, being brought under control at 9.26am and put out at 10.10am.

Deputy state secretary Mohammad Yusoff Wazir said a post-mortem would be conducted to identify response weaknesses among employees at Komtar during emergencies.

State Health, Welfare, Caring and Environ-ment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said the drill was carried out under Arahan 20, a command structure indicating the responsibilities of various government departments in crises. “The command chain must be clear. The post-mortem will reveal response weaknesses and show us what has to be rectified,” he said.

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