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Thursday, 26 May 2016 00:00

Malaysia Airlines Emergency Drill for Better Preparedness

Written by  Lee Mun Keat, KL & Selangor / Translated by Tan Heang Shin

Photo shows a Tzu Chi volunteer providing mental comfort to a Malaysia Airlines employee acted as next of kin. [Photograph by Lee Mun Keat]

For better crisis management and safer airline operations, Malaysia Airlines and Etihad Airways jointly conducted an emergency drill at KL International Airport on May 26, 2016. The exercise was aimed to assess the ability of various units to respond; capability to conduct rescue work; and effectiveness of infrastructure during an emergency.


Practised drill in earnest

The emergency drill was lifelike! The crash scene was like Hell on Earth with sounds of explosions and raging fires. Plane debris could be seen everywhere and “dead bodies” were lying around. Cries of help could be heard regularly in striking distance.

The fire brigade stationed at the airport arrived at the scene three minutes after receiving the distress call to put out the fire. The entire rescue process complied with the standard operating procedure set out by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

The exercise involved many government agencies, airline operators and non-governmental organizations with participation of several hundred personnel. Tzu Chi KL & Selangor was also invited to participate and 19 volunteers and staff had taken part in the exercise.

According to regulations, Malaysia Airlines would need to run an emergency drill every two years, to test the mobility of various units as well as to strengthen the responsiveness of rescue teams.

The exercise was carried out at different areas including the air crash site, air disaster unit (ADU), survivor reception centre (SRC), private matching area (PMA), family and friends reception centre (FFRC), and family and friends holding area (FFHA).

Stay calm during emergency

Tzu Chi volunteers have worked with Malaysia Airlines on the emergency exercise three times before. Malaysia Airlines had arranged for its staff to take on the role of family members this time to learn from volunteers on how to provide mental comfort.

“I have learnt how to remain calm in a state of chaos, as well as let the family members express their distress,” volunteer Ye Shao Quan commented. Being a Buddhist for many years, he kept reminding himself to display Tzu Chi humanistic values and etiquette. Upholding Tzu Chi spirit of Great Love, he provided his most sincere care to family members irrespective of race.

Change mindset with empathy

“I have learnt a lot from this drill. But I was somewhat taken aback when I was pushed back by the emotional family members,” Thiruchelvam a/l Muthoo from Tzu Chi Klang shared.

Thiru is a school bus driver with a polite manner. When he learnt about the exercise, he specially arranged for a friend to relieve him during his shift in order to participate. However, he did not expect such a serious role-play and thus was shocked when he was yelled at. Nonetheless, he was quick to compose himself and after putting himself in the shoes of the family members, he was able to offer a few words of consolation and lend a sympathetic ear thereby defusing the tension.

He felt pleased with the opportunity to take part because through the drill, he could see for himself the difference between an expected and a real situation. He hopes to apply what he has learnt in future home visits and caregiving roles.



“We have achieved all objectives. We will conduct more drills in the future as practice makes perfect,” expressed Jamal bin Abdul Jalil from the Malaysia Airlines Emergency Response Unit. He felt that with each exercise, better teamwork among different units could take place. With more experience, it could minimize the negative impact from an undesirable event.

During the six-hour exercise, preparation before and adaptation after an event, as well as individual readiness and team consensus proved vital. It is hoped that volunteers and Malaysia Airlines employees have walked away with abundant learning and realized the importance of showing empathy to family members.

 

A large scale of evacuation exercise was carried out jointly by Malaysia Airlines and Etihad Airways on May 26. [Photograph by Ng Kee Seng]   A total of 19 Tzu Chi volunteers participated in the emergency drill. [Photograph by Lee Mun Keat]

A large scale of evacuation exercise was carried out jointly by Malaysia Airlines and Etihad Airways on May 26. [Photograph by Ng Kee Seng]
 
A total of 19 Tzu Chi volunteers participated in the emergency drill. [Photograph by Lee Mun Keat]
 
Volunteer Ye Shao Quan demonstrated Tzu Chi’s Great Love when providing caregiving to family members during the exercise. [Photograph by Lee Mun Keat]   Thiruchelvam a/l Muthoo (left) overcame his psychological barrier to participate in earnest. [Photograph by Lee Mun Keat]

Volunteer Ye Shao Quan demonstrated Tzu Chi’s Great Love when providing caregiving to family members during the exercise. [Photograph by Lee Mun Keat]
 
 
Thiruchelvam a/l Muthoo (left) overcame his psychological barrier to participate in earnest. [Photograph by Lee Mun Keat]
 
Jamal bin Abdul Jalil from Malaysia Airlines Emergency Response Unit felt the need for more drills to better prepare the staff in the event of emergency. [Photograph by Lim Chee Yong]  

Jamal bin Abdul Jalil from Malaysia Airlines Emergency Response Unit felt the need for more drills to better prepare the staff in the event of emergency. [Photograph by Lim Chee Yong]