Police, firemen, health officials get training on dealing with biological attacks

Noor Rashid thanked the US for its support it had provided in preparing the country against those who 'seek to misuse science to harm rather than to help people'. — Picture by Ham Abu Bakar
Noor Rashid thanked the US for its support it had provided in preparing the country against those who 'seek to misuse science to harm rather than to help people'. — Picture by Ham Abu Bakar

KUALA LUMPUR, March 2 — Malaysia’s policemen, firemen and medical officials are now better trained to respond immediately if the country comes under attack with biological weapons.

The third installment of the Bio-incident Response Investigation Training and Evaluation (BRITE) national workshop that ended today was organised by the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s Cooperative Biological Engagement Programme.

The training programme included input from the Science and Technology Research Institute for Defense and representatives from US agencies including the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“BRITE is intended to familiarise participants with the right approach to handling bio-incidents through lectures, demonstrations and exercises.

“The programme is also designed to support the government’s efforts at meeting its non-proliferation obligations under the Biological Weapons convention which include upcoming biosecurity legislation,” Deputy Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Noor Rashid Ibrahim said today at the end of the workshop.

He thanked the US for its support it had provided in preparing the country against those who “seek to misuse science to harm rather than to help people”.

Also present at the conclusion of the workshop was US ambassador to Malaysia Kamala Shirin Lakhdir, who said the close ties between the two countries would continue to be strengthened through such cooperation.

“This programme helps Malaysia with its capacity building in that, personnel are better prepared for such situations where the use of hazardous chemicals or biological organisms deliberately released with the intent to cause casualties.”

Lakhdir, who was serving in China during the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome outbreak and the West Africa Ebola outbreak said these incidents had exposed how poorly prepared countries were in dealing with such incidents.

“Collaboration and cooperation like this is not only beneficial for our two countries but also for the wider region, which needs to be better prepared for such incidents whether manmade or natural disease outbreaks,” she added.

Held between February 26 and today at the police training centre (Pulapol) in Jalan Semarak, the workshop saw the participation of 20 members of the Royal Malaysian Police, Health Ministry and Fire and Rescue Department.

Besides classroom sessions, participants received practical training on the use of protective clothing, decontamination equipment and the handling of hazardous substances.

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