The 'new' Ketua Pengarah (KP), Lieutenant General (PA) Hj Nasir bin Mat Dam has continuously emphasized on the need for better training and preparation in face of disaster. He also emphasize on the need to get recognized trainers to run such training programs. Recently, JPA3 had recruited more than 300 new officers to fill in the various vacancies in the department. As 'permanent' staff, KP had ordered that they have to go through 6 months of intensive training, covering all aspect of operations.
One of the course is the Search and Rescue (SAR) course - Jungle Survival phase, which I had the pleasure to witness. The course was conducted by PASKAU - Pasukan Khas Udara, the Royal Malaysian Air Force elite commando unit somewhere in Perak.
I was asked to accompany some high ranking officer, acting in capacity as ADC. On the morning when we were supposed to depart, KP decided to pay a visit as well. So on the spot, contingency plans were put in motion. In the Fortuner was just me and Bada the driver, while Colonel rides with KP in his Perdana.
Our first stop was ITU, or Institut Tentera Udara. We were greeted by the Commandant and his senior officers. After lunch, we had a session at the shooting range. Surprisingly, our KP was quite a marksman. One thing that strikes me is his perseverance in trying to achieve perfection.
After that it was off to the training site, about 2 hours away. The participants had just completed the Mangrove Survival phase for 2 weeks. On the day we arrived, they had started the Jungle Survival phase and had gone nearly 5 days without any 'proper' food. Armed with just a parang and the clothes on their back, they were left to live off the land. They had to make their own shelters, utensils, 'bubu' and animal traps. It was a test both mentally and physically.
(Left) - Participants taught the different types of plants
(Centre) - Participants taught how to make traps
(Right) - Participants treated to their 1st solid food in days. Some even shed tears.
It makes me wonder at times as to what drives a human to endure pain, hunger and suffering for the benefit of others.
(Left) - Participants tested in identifying the different types of plants
(Centre) - Me with 'Pak Yeop', a veteran retired commando. A true Malaysian made 'Indiana Jones'.
(Right) - Only practical style of training here...no classrooms. Nature is the ultimate classroom for survival training.
Someone worth mentioning...Pak Yeop. He is a veteran green beret (Commando). He is 60+ years old but he still goes into the jungle to look for herbs. He even outpaced us 'younger' people. You can just about ask him anything regarding herbs...ie. what's the remedy for this, what's the remedy for that. The good thing is, he process the herbs that he collects and sells them in capsule form. Looking at his 'very healthy' condition, I can't help but believed in his remedies.
One thing that came to my mind...will he pass on his knowledge & wisdom to someone else? I sure hope so as its very priceless.