Puppies, cobras and strange accidents

Puppies, cobras and strange accidents

UTRAJAYA, Malaysia - Gone are the days when the Fire and Rescue Services Department were only involved in putting out fires.

These days they can be called for anything - to rescue puppies in drains, to deal with people threatening to jump off buildings or even to cut off rings from body parts.

Just a few weeks back, the Bomba made headlines when a four-man team from the Kota Baru Fire and Rescue Service Department's Emergency Medical Rescue Services (EMRS), took nearly two hours to slice a steel ring off the penis of a 23-year-old man using a ring cutter.

Bomba Assistant Director General (operations) Datuk Soiman Jahid said the role of the department has evolved over the years.

"In recent times, we have been called for many different kinds of cases. Before this the public rarely called us for this kind of cases," he told the Star Online in an interview at the department's headquarters in Putrajaya.

Out of the 68,280 calls they received last year - 33,640 were for fire-related cases while 33,068 for other emergencies.

The penis ring incident in Kota Baru was a rare one but one that challenged the improvisation skills of the Bomba said Soiman.

"The equipment that we used for the procedure was designed by the Bomba a long time ago," he said adding that they received more calls for removing rings that were stuck on fingers.

There are altogether 270 fire stations around the country, with about 13,000 fire-fighters or officers employed.

The Bomba's duties are enshrined under the Fire Services Act 1988. It isn't mentioned in the act, but there are many things that the Bomba does.

This includes dealing with snakes and exterminating beehives in homes.

"The hospitals call us for our expertise in snake bites. Before administering any anti-venom, they are called to identify the type of bite," said Soiman adding that cobra bites were the most common in Malaysia.

In recent times, the department has had to deal with many suicide cases, especially those threatening to jump off buildings or even bridges.

In fact, they even have a base in Butterworth to deal with potential suicide cases on the Penang Bridge.

"The number of cases has been rising at this location. In any case, we have a squad waiting with boats so that the response is quick," he said.

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