Miri – 11 October, 2010 – A mock fire drill exercise conducted at Curtin University, Sarawak Malaysia (Curtin Sarawak) recently created a fair bit of ‘commotion’ in the university community, but was all in the interest of enhancing the preparedness of its staff and students in the event of emergencies on the campus.
It was one of several ‘mock exercises’ held each year at the university and a joint effort between the university management, its Emergency Response Team (ERT) and the Malaysian Red Crescent voluntary aid detachment (VAD-57) at Curtin Sarawak. The drill was also held in conjunction with Curtin Sarawak’s first-ever First Aid & Safety (FAS) Month aimed at raising awareness of health safety issues at the university.
“Most crucially, it tested the readiness of our ERT and the response of the local fire and rescue services, as well as our first aiders, to respond to a fire emergency at our campus,” said James Ng, chief operating officer of Curtin Sarawak, who is responsible for the university’s critical incident management systems.
He added that they all achieved very impressive response times and everything was very well coordinated and went according to plan.
The din of fire alarms and fire engine sirens, as well as the sight of the ERT and VAD-57 volunteers working feverishly to evacuate staff and students from the School of Business building, brought the campus to a virtual standstill as everyone waited anxiously to find out what had transpired. Within minutes, the ERT and VAD-57 volunteers could be seen evacuating ‘casualties’ while firemen hosed down the building.
Housing Officer Chin Li Yen described the fire drill as quite realistic and expressed hopes such drills would be held more regularly and involve all areas of the university.
“Participating in the drill was a very useful experience for our housing team as we manage the Lakeside Apartments on campus and need to be knowledgeable about fire hazards and the campus’ emergency evacuation procedures. Several hundred students live in our student housing and their safety is among our top priorities,” she said.
VAD-57 field commandant Phang Kip Loong disclosed that the drill was part of the ongoing training activities of the Disaster Management Committee of the Malaysian Red Crescent Society, Miri Chapter, and the VAD-57.
He added that the drill was designed to be as realistic as possible to accurately assess the university community’s level of preparedness. It was also meant to enhance awareness of fire hazards and emergency procedures, and foster teamwork amongst students and staff.
Giving all the participants the thumbs up for their support and cooperation, he said “Everything went largely according to plan. Everyone played their part and the evacuation was very orderly and swift. It was completed in under an hour with minimum inconvenience to students and staff.”
According to Curtin Sarawak’s Chief Operating Officer, James Ng, the university places a high priority on the safety of its staff and students and has comprehensive emergency response procedures for various types of emergency situations.
“We practice the highest standards of safety and security. The university community can rest assured that its safety and security is one of our uppermost concerns,” he said.