Monster Blog – March 8, 2006: Earthquake 2005 Revisited

Earthquake 2005 Revisited

So, there was another earthquake in Sumatra and we felt the tremors here in Malaysia. Are we ready to deal with large-scale evacuation and rescue should the tremors compromise the structural integrity of the skyscrapers here? Many commercial high-rise buildings hold regular emergency evacuation drills to prepare for such eventualities.

If one can walk, evacuating from these buildings is a matter of walking down the many flights of steps and to safety. What about those with mobility impairments? Using the elevators during a fire or after an earthquake is not recommended. Using the stairs is an impossibility. Where does that leave them? Do we have rescue personnel who are well-equipped and trained to handle such situations?

After the earthquake in March 29, 2005, I wrote a letter to Dato’ Seri Shahrizat and copied it to the relevant ministries and departments. Dato’ Shahrizat directed the Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat Malaysia to reply to the letter. The Chief Minister of Penang’s Office also sent a reply. And the matter ended there. I had expected the Kementerian Perumahan dan Kerajaan Tempatan and the Jabatan Bomba dan Penyelamat to look into my plight. If there really is no evacuation plan for people with mobility impairments one should be drawn up. Until now, I have not heard from them regarding this.

So, there was an earthquake yesterday. It reminded me of the tremors I experienced back in 2005. I was so frightened. I felt extremely helpless. My apartment was shaking very badly. I thought it would collapse at any moment. I could not evacuate. I thought about the plight of thousands of other people with mobility impairments who were staying in high-rise. Are we any better off now than we were in 2005? I guess not. We are stuck in our homes with no way out. Apa macam Malaysia?