Wednesday, October 13, 2010

10-10-10 Tragedy : The Blame Game

By now everybody in Malaysia has heard about the accident at KM223 North South Highway on the 10th of October 2010 - not everything that happened that day was rosy. And usual, people start to point fingers at various authorities. Whether justified or not, I'm not going to say anything about but rather I'd like to criticise us, the public.

Why? OK here's why:
1. The cause of the accident
Eyewitness accounts vary and seriously, eyewitness accounts are not very reliable. But the cause of the accidents probably have something to do with
- speeding. Some eyewitness said that the bus was driven very fast.
- road hogging. Eyewitness said that the bus swerved after trying to avoid a slow-moving, road hogging mini-car
- the bus driver was sleepy. It was alleged that he drank cups of coffee beforehand.
Until the authorities came up with the official report, all those reasons are merely speculative. Anyway, it all points out to human error. Just how many of us drove very fast, hog the roads or driving without adequate rest? It does not matter whether we are driving a public transportation or riding a motorcycle, we all have responsibility for ensuring the safety of ourselves and the other road users.

2. Public spectacle
Road accidents in Malaysia are public spectacles - the more terrible the accident, the 'merrier' it will be. I have seen photos of a massive traffic jam in the aftermath of the accident..on the northbound lane of the highway - the accident took place on the southbound lane. Whilst the southbound traffic naturally comes to a halt because the wreckage blocking all of the lanes, it should not happen on the clear northbound lanes. There are even drivers who parked their car on the roadside! Whilst apparently there is quite a large of people on the scene, most of them prefer just to lounge around or taking photos of the victims (to be uploaded on internet forums or their FB pages, I guess) rather than helping the injured. And since traffic has halted on both sides of the highway, we came to....

3. Blocking of emergency lanes
'Emergency lane' - it's an res ipsa loquitor. Yet when seeing the massive traffic jam, some selfish drivers started to use the lane - only to find their way blocked with nowhere to go. And since all the lanes are now effectively blocked the emergency vehicles were thwarted from arriving at the scene within a reasonable time. From what I read, the jam stretched back 4 kilometers from the scene with drivers trapped for roughly three hours.

Some argued, with hostile tones on why the helicopters of the authorities were not used for casualty evacuation. From what I know, those choppers were not configured for casualty evacuation. Even if the were equipped with such equipment, it probably might not be suitable to use because there is the possibility of the huge downdraft (especially from the big Mi-17 used by the Fire Department) causing havoc with the vehicles on the highway.

Also, one of the victims' brother argued that the emergency services arrived late at the scene. I guess that's because of the massive jams on both sides of the highway. He also argued that medical attention were not given to his brother who eventually died. I guess the rescue teams applied the triage system here where certain seriously injured persons who are unlikely to survive received a lower priority treatment (or perhaps not at all) than the ones who are likely to survive.

Anyway, condolences to the family of all the victims.

1 comment:

Hairil Rizal said...

No 3 - Blocking of the emergency lane was definitely the culprit behind the fact that rescue teams came later than expected. It's the public's fault, not that of the rescue team's.

The priority of treatment...I don't think that many of us knows about that, thus the blame goes to the rescue team.

They should have seen at least 'Pearl Harbour' - where that concept was clearly practiced.

With more than 40 people injured and perhaps less than 20 rescue workers, such situation was inevitable.

Finally, if everything goes back to Qada' and Qadar, the blame game wouldn't have started in the first place.

What is needed is to take effective and continuous preventive actions thereafter.