Taman Pasir Putih hall serves as makeshift hospital to toxic fumes victims

Rescue personnel rendering immediate emergency assistance to the six students who had vomited due to methane gas inhalation in Pasir Gudang early this morning. — Picture courtesy of the Johor Fire and Rescue Department
Rescue personnel rendering immediate emergency assistance to the six students who had vomited due to methane gas inhalation in Pasir Gudang early this morning. — Picture courtesy of the Johor Fire and Rescue Department

JOHOR BARU, March 13 — Over the past few days, the Taman Pasir Putih community hall has been ‘transformed’ into a makeshift hospital providing early treatment to students and members of the public affected by toxic fumes from chemical waste dumped into Sungai Kim Kim.

Chaos erupted at the hall compound as early as 10.30am when students from several schools in the surrounding area were brought in for early treatment after complaining of shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting.

At times, firefighters, personnel from the Department of Environment, health workers and members of the Pasir Gudang Municipal Council were seen to be struggling to provide treatment to students from several schools around Pasir Gudang as well as to members of the public from the surrounding area.

Ambulances from Health Ministry and various agencies — the Civil Defence Force; Fire and Rescue Department’s Emergency Medical Rescue Services (EMRS) unit; St John Ambulance as well as from the Regency Specialist Hospital — were seen ferrying the victims continuously, to obtain early treatment at the hall as well as sending those in serious conditions to the Sultan Ismail Hospital for further treatment.

It was fairly obvious that students and members of the public who arrived at the hall to seek treatment were in weak condition with some were using wheelchairs and the crowd was sent to panic when a woman fainted as she entered the place.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad at a press conference today said 506 people sought treatment including 166 being hospitalised while nine were placed in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

The presence of worried parents at the hall compound since 11am only made the situation worse, but health workers and personnel from the People’s Volunteer Corps (Rela) managed to calm the crowd.

Understandably, no word could describe the parents’ anguish as they were worried over the fate of their children after being informed by the schools that some of the children were experiencing shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting.

In the afternoon, the situation in the hall began to ease though many were still seeking treatment including pregnant women and students.

The situation at the hall that has been opened for 24 hours daily since Sunday received attention from several parties including activist Adzuan Ahmad, 47, who distributed 400 face masks using his own money while Ranhill SAJ contributed mineral water, food and tissue paper for the use of victims and personnel at the hall. — Bernama

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