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Here’s how Bomba’s elite team wins this international challenge almost every year

Just recently, our Bomba guys uploaded a video on Facebook that went viral:

The 3 minute video, which had over 500k views and 6.6k shares, showcased a team of Malaysia’s Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) who was saving a dummy from a car (more on this later). According to a tweet by @melayujati3, the Bomba only took less than 5 minutes to get the dummy out of the car while other firefighters from other countries seem to take longer than that to do so.

Actually, the viral video came from a yearly competition held by Singapore’s Civil Defence Force called the Singapore-Global Firefighters and Paramedics Challenge (SGFPC). It was held from the 18th to 23rd November 2019. Yea, we know old news ady #ihatecilisos. 

And, apparently…

 

The competition is only opened for ELITE rescue teams!  😮 

Actually, we couldn’t track the first SGFPC event but it was first made for the public in 2013. This competition is basically opened to firefighters, rescuers and paramedics from around the world to compete in gruelling and highly demanding scenarios-based challenge. Just check the teaser trailer for this year’s SGFPC here:

The challenge actually comes in three parts which are the global, public and Singapore challenges. But we’ll be focusing on the global challenges since our Bomba guys only participated in those challenges.

Anyways, there are two parts under the global challenges:

  • Brave Heart: An 8-stage challenge which tests an individual’s strength, agility, skills, stamina and mental endurance.
  • Rip It Off: A team-based challenge which is based on real-life accident scenario. This is the challenge that was featured in the Bomba’s Facebook page.

We managed to kepoh with Bomba’s Operations Management Branch Officer, Tuan PgKB II Alimaddia Bin Bukri who added that SGFPC also consists of a sharing session among the participating teams. This is known as the International Elite Rescuers’ Exchange (IERE) Workshop.

One of the officers from Malaysia's SMART team with other teams from other countries. Img from Singapore's Civil Defence Force

One of the officers from Malaysia’s SMART team with other teams from other countries. Img from Singapore’s Civil Defence Force

Teams would normally share their methods like the fire extinguishing and rescue techniques to improve the services provided to the society. But who are these teams tho?

Based on the challenges listed above, you can probably tell that this competition is not just for anyone. Alimaddia told us that SGFPC is only opened for elite rescue teams

“The Fire and Rescue Department sent its elite team called the Special Tactical Operation and Rescue team of Malaysia (STORM) to participate in this year’s event.” – Alimaddia told CILISOS. Translated from BM.

Besides STORM, there are 12 other teams from countries like Brunei, the Philippines, Australia, Thailand and Indonesia.

What’s even more interesting is how, unlike other countries, there are actually three teams representing Malaysia! The other two are the Malaysia Civil Defence Force (APM) and Special Malaysia Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (SMART).

And the teams from Malaysia are pretty badass too! Alimaddia even claimed that STORM is pretty intimidating. And that’s because…

 

STORM wins the Brave Heart and Rip It Off challenges almost. Every. Single.Year.

Apparently, STORM and the APM have been participating in the competition every single year. Well, except 2017 la because, according to Alimaddia, the competition wasn’t held that year. 

And each year of participation, STORM would win any one of these challenges, particularly the Rip It Off challenge. 

STORM at SGFPC. Img from Alimaddia

STORM at SGFPC. Img from Alimaddia

“In 2016, we won the first place for Rip It Off challenge. And, in 2018, we won third place for both Rip It Off and Brave Heart challenges.” – Alimaddia highlighted some of their wins.

STORM won third place again this year in the Rip It Off challenge. But the team was so close to winning third in the Brave Heart challenge. 

“Although we gave our best shot, our participant won fourth place after only 7 seconds behind Indonesia’s participant.” – Head of Operations Management Branch, Operations Division of JBPM Assistant Commissioner of Fire, Morni Mamat told Harian Metro. Translated from BM.

And since our team is that good, Alimaddia told us that the members were carefully hand-picked. He said that not everyone in the STORM elite team are chosen to represent the country.

“Candidates are picked among Bomba’s Elite team STORM. This team is built according to their physical and mental capabilities, knowledge and strong identity.” – Alimaddia to CILISOS.

Alimaddia also added that STORM members are equipped with the knowledge of Urban Search and Rescue which typically involves the location, extrication, and initial medical stabilization of victims trapped in structural collapse due to natural disasters, mines and collapsed trenches. 

Despite the knowledge and usual training equipped and undergone by the STORM members, they would normally undergo another training specifically for SGFPC. And, according to Alimaddia,  this training, which involves things like intense physical activities and complex accident rescue techniques, would be conducted for three weeks. Here’s one of the training they have to go thru (video courtesy of Alimaddia):

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Meanwhile, APM’s team is more open compared to STORM. We contacted APM’s Disaster Management and Operations Officer, Lt Col (PA) Rosman Abdullah who told us that all APM members are able to participate SGFPC as long as they fulfill certain criteria.

“APM opens up the opportunity to all officers and members who are interested to participate SGFPC. However, because there is a limited quota (of participants), APM would select officers and members with good health and skill.” – Rosman to CILISOS. Translated from BM.

Unlike STORM, Rosman told us that APM’s team would normally undergo an intensive training specifically for SGFPC for two weeks. And APM’s training focuses more on the Brave Heart challenge compared to the Rip It Off challenge.

APM's team in action. Img from Rosman

APM’s team in action. Img from Rosman

And once teams went thru all that, they’re prepared to compete against other international elite teams.

Having said that…

 

We have an internationally recognised Bomba team…

…and other rescue teams too, ofcos. 

This is quite true as, according to Morni, Bomba’s Standard Of Procedure (SOP) is at following the international’s SOP.

“Thankfully, despite not being able to maintain the win last year’s win, which is by winning third place for both categories, we’re still satisfied as we’re among the top participating teams. This proves that the rescue method we’ve been using all this while follows the International Standard of Procedure (SOP).” – Morni told Harian Metro. Translated from BM.

And regardless of whether the team wins or not, we actually read some positive comments from our fellow Malaysians on the viral video. Some were congratulating our elite team while others were sharing their own personal experience of being saved by Bomba when they were trapped in vehicles in accidents. 

Some proud Malaysians commenting at Jabatan Bomba dan Penyelamat (Fire and Rescue Department)'s Facebook page.

Some proud Malaysians commenting at Jabatan Bomba & Penyelamat (Fire & Rescue Department of Malaysia)’s Facebook page.

Considering how Malaysia has the third highest death rate of from accidents in the world and more than 280,000 road accidents in half of 2019, we couldn’t help but to ask Alimaddia if this pretty much enhanced the efficiency of the Bomba team and indirectly help the team win the challenge.

However, as it turns out, that’s not really the case. Alimaddia told us that the Bomba guys are often trained, no matter how large the scale of training is. He said the training could either be as small as a station-based training to as huge as an international-based training like the one held by Singapore’s Civil Defence Force.

And, at the end of the day, despite the achievements the elite teams can get in SGFPC, their main aim is to keep the public safe in cases like accidents or fire. And that’s pretty much what Bomba and APM are trying to do when they participated SGFPC as they get to further enhance their strategies, knowledge and tactics through networking with other rescue agencies around the world.

 

“Continuous improvement on tactical rescue operations if there is room for improvement available from lesson learn in operations and training that are ongoing. The Fire and Rescue Department of Malaysia will always strive to enhance the department’s competence in providing better service to the community.” – Alimaddia.

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