KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association, which provides professional search and rescue operations, has launched the country’s first off-road ambulance.
Malaysian Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association (MVFRA) founder and safety activist K Balasupramaniam said the specially-built vehicles are meant to overcome emergency situations, such as landslides and floods, among others.
“This ambulance is mainly to deal with earthquakes, landslides and floods. It can withstand the kind of terrain that ordinary ambulances would not be able to handle,” Balasupramaniam said, adding that it was a 2.4cc four-wheel drive ambulance.
“We need an ambulance that can handle different terrain and also different types of debris. For example, if there is an explosion at a shopping mall, with glass strewn everywhere, this ambulance can drive straight through.”
The ambulance is equipped with a fully-secured and enclosed compartment that can fit a full sized cot, and is spacious enough to accommodate five people.
Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department S Devamany, who officiated the launch, lauded MVFRA for its volunteers, who work for the association without pay.
Most of them have professions of their own, some being lawyers, accountants and bank managers.
“We need to teach this in our schools, and get our students to understand the attitude and benefits of volunteerism,” Devamany said.
Balasupramaniam agreed, saying that no real qualifications are needed to be rescuers beyond dedication and the training provided by MVFRA.
“We need ordinary people to do extraordinary things,” he said, adding that MVFRA “are one of the first fully equipped and experienced outfits.”
According to Balasupramaniam, the group meets every Sunday for training without fail.
“Mornings, 9-12. The rest of the day they’ll spend with their families,” he said.
Volunteers go through a three-level training programme, divided into green, yellow and red zones.
Each zone deals with increasing levels of difficulty, from handling supplies to active involvement in emergencies.
The association also holds public recruiting and training events from time to time to educate the public on volunteerism.