It is a sad day for Singaporeans, and Tanjong Katong Primary School in particular ("Day dedicated to memory of fallen climbers"; yesterday).
While we mourn the deaths of the climbers, we must also learn from the incident.
Television interviews with adventure course instructors and teachers reveal a lack of preparedness to deal with natural disasters and other dangers.
All we understand from them is that the pupils had undergone stringent medical examinations and weeks of physical training before the climb.
What was not mentioned - mountain survival training tactics.
In the outdoors, it is important that adventurers recognise the types of potential dangers.
For those who climb mountains, it is important to understand and learn how to deal with landslides, falling boulders, high-altitude sickness, extreme cold temperature and, in the case of earthquake zones, appropriate earthquake response measures.
Similarly, those who trek in jungles must learn how to deal with flash floods, forest fires, falling trees and how to stay clear of wild animals.
Those calling for such activities to be scrapped are over-reacting.
The Education Ministry should continue to support leadership training and outdoor adventures, but with enhanced safety requirements.
Skill sets which enhance the survivability of students under various environmental challenges must be taught.
While there is no guarantee of absolute safety, the survival rate could be enhanced.
Let us give the bereaved families our full support and care.
For schools and adventure clubs, this should serve as a wake-up call.
Survival skills should be considered as part of future courses, besides technical skill sets.
Lee Huan Chiang
This article was first published on June 9, 2015.
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