Agencies hold search-and-rescue drill

Hakim Hayat

The Fire and Rescue Department (FRD) through its Operation ‘F’ Branch organised a rescue drill at Bukit Shahbandar Recreational Park in Jerudong on Thursday to test the response and interoperability between different agencies in search-and-rescue.

Personnel from the Royal Brunei Police Force (RBPF), Emergency Medical Ambulance Services (EMAS) and the Forestry Department (JPH) joined the exercise dubbed Eksesais Cakah 2020 (ExC 20).

The scenario was that the weather condition abruptly shifted to thunderstorms with strong winds (Yellow Stage) causing a hiker to fall 25-30 metres into a deep gorge, while another hiker clinging on to a tree about 14 metres from the gorge.

According to the FRD, the exercise also evaluated the effectiveness of the emergency action plans of the agencies and command-and-control in joint operations. It also helped determine capability gaps and readiness in enhancing the capabilities of security agencies in handling emergencies.

FRD statistics showed a steep increase in the number of search-and-rescue missions particularly individuals lost during hiking in the past three years.

Some 21 cases have been recorded this year, compared to eight in 2019 and four in 2018. Thirty calls related to such incident were received this year, more than double the previous year’s statistics.

FRD reminded hikers to take precautionary and safety measures before excursions such as checking the weather forecast, refraining from hiking after 6pm and not going alone as well as informing family and friends about their itineraries and carrying a whistle, flashlight, mobile phone and water for emergencies.

Emergency personnel retrieve a hiker in the drill; and observers during the exercise. PHOTOS: FRD