01 September 2023

Oh Lord Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood

I swear my intentions were good. I am safety trained with more than 30 years experience in safety work whether in flight safety or health, safety and environment issues.

In such spirit, I am a keen participant in the base's Hazard Hunts and my safety hazard and reportable incidents quota for both 2022 and 2023 are healthy.

Such was the eager spirit with which I attended the Hazard Hunt as periodically organised by our local HSE Department, 21 August. We assembled first for the FOD Walk, when we marched along our helicopter parking bay at Bay 27 Terminal 2, doing a ground sweep for Foreign Object Debris to prevent possible ingestion into the aircraft engines and the costly resultant, Foreign Object Damage.

After the glamourously named "pungut sampah" was over, our HSE Executive broke us up into groups for the hunt. We were supposed to look around our working areas and offices for various hazards, such as fire extinguishers lacking the periodic checks and annotations, exposed electrical wires, outdated notices, first aid kit expiries and the like.

In so small a working area as ours, I had reached my saturation level in hunting down hazards. Over the preceding year I had reported 5 hazards during my first Hazard hunt in KK and set myself rather above my quota for the first quarter of 2022.

So on this fateful day I did my walkabout with my group comprising the HR Exec and the HSE Exec, both feisty ladies. I wandered into the passenger briefing room and looked around. Nothing valid. To the pantry and well, dingy as it was, it remained spotless so again, nothing. I caught up with the girls in the admin office, meaning the HR Exec's domain and found them rifling through a medical box. The were methodically silent and isolated two vials of clear liquid.

"Sanitiser, Cap. Expire already" they explained. I swear I would never have thought of rummaging through the admin office save for what immediately meets the eye. I go about my business treating individual offices as....well, private spaces.

Just outside the admin office was a Break Glass Call Point. It looked dated and unreliable. On looks alone.

"This seems odd ya?" I mused while opining at the HR Exec. "The glass seems to be in contact with the background, and doesn't even feel like glass. There is no striker for breaking the glass." My finger ran over the centre of what felt like a plastic cover sitting on the call point, hoping to feel the reassuring stud of the alarm button behind it. I shook my head at her and said, "Nah, I wouldn't be surprised if this were a dummy call point."

And right then, to my horror and embarassment the plastic cover cracked and the alarm went off with a loud, continuous and rather outraged ring.

It may as well have been a Untited States nuclear launch, because the Pavolvian response of everyone in sight pouring out of their individual offices was as unstoppable as it was irreversible. As I walked towards the Aviation Security desk to confess, I beheld the enormity of what I had done. This wasn't just my company boys and girls evacuating. I watched with my face turning ever deeper shades of scarlet as offshore passengers, our neighbouring company staff and pilots and virtually everyone in the terminal inclusive of janitors went obediently towards the assembly point. It was as if everyone had fled for their very lives. Which would have been rather the point of the whole drill.

The AFRS boys met with me, relieved that their panic was merely at the hands of a bumbling nitwit. "Panik bah saya tadi Cap!" they sighed and followed up with giggling. This only delayed my face from returning to its usual pallor. They were happy and satisfied at such a simple cause for the alarm and had nothing more for me. Having owned up to being the culprit, I joined the rest at the assembly area to be accounted for. The magnitude of my bumbling hit me for a second time as I saw our neighbouring company's Flight Ops Manager, Chief Operations Officer, Chief Exec Officer, et al, blinking uncomfortably under the glaring sun at their designated assembly point.

Aviation Security met with each group's coordinator and checked the head count. All was rapidly settled and then we were allowed to disperse.

But the meighbour's pilots, who were also my former squadron mates, took it in gentemanly good humour.

"Hey, Captain Jeff, I heard something about this captain, entah siapa he is lah, who triggered the fire alarm. We are under audit now, with all the auditors watching so many of us panicking. But I will do him a favour and cover him, entah siapa he is, if you help me cover with makan-makan for us lah..."

A Break Glass Call Point, with shattered glass. This is at Kokol Hill Resort and was not my fault.

I will say this: we are at a point when the company's existence in KK hangs in the balance. State politics has dictated to us that come 2024, in the spirit of Malaysia Madani, only state owned aviation companies shall operate the privilege of offshore oil and gas flights. I am very possibly witnessing my last days in my beloved Kota Kinabalu.

So it appears that triggering the alarm may have been the last thing I do in Sabah.

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