Monday, 27 October 2008

The Importance of First Aid Knowledge in Every Soldiers and Officers.

THE IMPORTANCE OF FIRST AID IN EVERY SOLDIERS AND OFFICERS. If all my men had known the basics of life-saving first-aid knowledge, one of my men’s life could have been saved that one fateful night. He had accidentally shot himself in the thigh. It was just a mere flesh wound but because none of his friends and platoon commander knew how to apply the first-aid treatment to stop the bleeding, the poor soldier died on the way to a rendezvous some 15 map squares away (about 15 kilometers)! It was a most regrettable incident, which happened at the wrong place and at the wrong time. My Company of 3rd Rangers was given a sector in the most difficult area in the Kinta District of Perak. As usual, I broke up the Company into three groups so that I could effectively search my area of responsibility. Each of the groups made their own way to their sub-sectors right from the debussing point. By about 5 pm, they stopped for the night and started to make their overnight base. With a parang in one hand and his M16 in the other, this soldier went to cut some wood for his basha. He tripped and his M16 went off. He was shot in the thigh. I was frantically trying to get a helicopter to evacuate him before last light but failed. Night flying was impossible as there was not enough light for the helicopter to fly in. I was, at that time about 10 map squares (about 10 kilometers) from the platoon. For me to move and meet up with them was like looking for a football 10 kilometers away. It was made more impossible at night. What else could I do but to tell the platoon to wait for daylight the next day and meantime to treat the wounded soldier with first-aid as best as they could! By about 9 or 10 p.m. that night, the platoon commander radioed me – the soldier’s condition was deteriorating and they had to bring him out on a stretcher to the nearest motorable track which was about 15 map squares away! So, armed with torch lights and machettes, they carried the poor soldier through the mountainous jungle in the pitch-dark night. It was no easy task and needed their sheer determination. It was a whole night move and by the time they reached the rendezvous, the poor soldier was dead. He had lost too much blood! The question that had always haunted me was: could his life be saved if his comrades knew how to apply and administer the right first-aid without having to move him 15 kilometers through the difficult terrain in the pitch-dark night? I think, this was a classic example of the importance of first-aid. Every soldier must know how to treat all common sicknesses, fractures and wounds suffered in battles or in operational areas. It should be a must, if we want to avoid unnecessary loss of lives. First-aid knowledge must be made compulsory to all soldiers and officers. It should be incorporated into rank promotion examinations.


  1. Sadly first aid courses, and anything that is related to first aid, is not part of the curriculum in infantry training in Malaysia.

    The only thing (forgive me, sir) that a Malaysian infantryman would learn is "to kill and be killed".

    The rules of war, the rules of engagement, how to treat an enemy, these things and more, are not taught or made as the norms in our military.

    Sad, really.

  2. Hansac,

    I agree with you 100%. There should be more to a military training than just to kill the enemy. Soldiering is more than that. Perhaps the Amy should have a relook at the training syllabus at Training Schools and Training Institutions.

  3. Sir,

    I feel I am not qualified to talk to you in any military or combat issues. But, I speak from experience, as recent as earlier this year, when I attended Potential Officers' course for Territorial Army in PLAW, that things like "minum air liur/kahak" was still carried out.

    I sent letters to Minister of Defence (at that time it was Dato Seri Najib), to PTD, AP of BPS, Commandant of PLAW, TK of my regiment (510), OC Latih and also OC of my battalion, highlighting many mistreatments that I and my coursemates got, and also the fact that out of 73 students, I was the only one that was failed. All other students got C and C+.

    I sent the letters in June. I got two replies from Mindef, but I have not gotten any reply from anyone else.

    It seems that (forgive me again, sir) that our Malaysian Army likes to torture its own soldiers first way before the enemy torture them.

    The reason or justification for this is to harden or toughen the soldiers so that they could withstand the rigours of war. I beg to differ.

    I would like to hear your opinion as a true and tested soldier on this.

  4. salam,

    Connected to your blog through rafizal ahmad. You do have a very informative blog especially related to your experience.Will take some time to read all your posting.


  5. Uncle..

    During that time no medic officer?

  6. Hi Jan,

    Each company had one Medical Orderly. But when the company operated in more than one group, the Medical Orderly will be colocated with the Company Hq. If the platoons were within easy reach, the medical orderly could go to the platoon needing his service but more often than not the location of the platoons were out of the way.

  7. Hi Uncle

    So one Medical Orderly for one company. How many platoons in a company?

  8. Hi Jan,

    A Battalion has 4 Rifle Companies. Each Rifle Company has 3 platoons and each platoon has 3 sections of 10 men. A Section is commanded by a Corporal, a platoon by a subaltern and a company by a Major.

  9. Dear Bob,

    AS a Sarawakian and most of all as a person who grew up in Simanggang I would like to be part of this campaign to bring back one of the brave Sons of Sarawak to Sarawak for a more fitting and decent military burial. He had done a great service to Malaysia even before the formation of Malaysia. Just look at what is written on his tombstone 1955 - eight years before the formation of Malaysia. The Muslim State of Kedah should show some respect for our fallen hero and not just leave him buried by the side of the rad in such manner. I hope the present CM of Kedah Dato Ustaz Azizan, my former colleague and good friend at UKM could do something about this. Ustaz tolong sikit no orang kami dari Sarawak ni. Kesianlah kat saudara mara dia!

    Dr A. Hasmadi A. Mois

  10. Dear Prof. Hasmadi,

    Even 53 years after his death, Lance Corporal Ungkok ak. Jugam is still fighting - this time fighting for a decent final resting place.

    He is one of about 20 Iban Trackers/Sarawak Rangers who were killed during the First Emergency in Malaya. They were buried all over Malaya and Singapore.

    On November 6, 2008 I had proposed to the CM of Sarawak to exhume the graves and move the remains for a reburial in a special heroes grave in Kuching.

    The CM agreed BUT the next-of-kins must give their written consent. I have given the list of names of those buried here in Malaya and Singapore to Major Monday, head of Veterans Department in Sarawak for him to locate the next-of-kins and get their consents. This is the major stumbling block. Once that is done, the Sarawak Government will then initiate the follow-up actions.

    Back to Lance Corporal Ungkok's situation. It seemed that the British War Veteran Department did try to locate/contact his NOK but failed. Without the NOK's consent, they couldn't move the grave. So it was left where it was.

    In 2006, the Historical Society of Malaysia, Kedah Branch did brought up the matter with Ex Services Department, Sarawak Branch who located the NOK. The name was given to the Society but that was about all. No action was taken to move the grave elsewhere.

    I brought up the case to Jabatan Hal Ehwal Veteran ATM and they were totally surprised. They didn't even know about the grave. I had suggested to them to move the grave to either Taiping or Batu Gajah, where his comrades were buried (while waiting for the bigger relocation plan from Sarawak Government).

    So that is the whole picture.

  11. Agree with you Sir. First aid training should be made compulsory to all soldiers. And I say ALL. Regardless of their unit i.e. RAMD, RRD, KAGAT, KPA etc…

    With regard of your question Sir… there is no way for sure for you to know if your men’s life could be saved, if first aid was properly given… If my memory serves me right… in Somalia, a us army ranger NCO was shot, wounded and hours later, died of his wound. Cause of death: massive lost of blood. All that time, a trained medic was present and had tried everything and every trick that he knew to saved that soldier life, but to no avail.

    Col... That NCO was shot in the thigh… apparently the bullet had hit and severely injured one of his main artery…

  12. Marc,

    You may be right. If the main artery was broken, it would have been very difficult to stop the blood loss, even by trained medic - unless he was operated on to mend the broken artery.

  13. Robert,

    ,,,i used to pilot both the Alouette and Nuri helicopters and were involved with many booby trap injured soldiers/police/civilian in the 70 ths and in most cases the injured were not properly pressure bandaged and they would at times, died from loss of blood.
    ,,,so where/whenever i don't have a medic onboard, i would check the injured personnel and apply more pressure bandage on their injuries, lessons learnt as a boy scout plus my wife a nurse and such i picked up lots of valuable tips from.
    ,,,Unfortunately, i can still remember too, many booby trap victims with internal injuries that was beyond my first aid capabilities. Time was my only avenue to help them reach proper medical care and we used to fly them direct to Penang Hospital, even arriving late at night from the East/West highway then under construction and often constantly being 'booby trap/ambush' by the CTs.
    ...As long as we can winch up or land before last light at the jungle front line, we flew back at night above the mountains to the nearest Hospitals. Indeed, I have logged more than 200 such mercy flights on record in total.

  14. Hi Capt's,

    Then I must know you. I was operating in the E/W Highway, Op Kota Echo and elsewhere in Perak in the 70s.

    You guys were doing a wonderful job. I remembered a Nuri which winched out one of my men (who was struck by a lightning) from a mountain top in Chemor, Perak.

    Another great Nuri pilot, Maj Nor Ibrahim, was my intake squad. He has a blog

    He experiences are very interesting.

  15. Squad,
    Thank you. I used to operate when the East-West highway was under contruction. If I'm not mistaken, I flew arwah Tun Ghabar Baba when he visited the area and Lt Col Philip Lee was the CO of the Ranger unit there. Long...long time ago.

  16. Squad,

    Yes, I remembered that visit. I and my Company was based on the hill opposite the Bn Tac Hq.

  17. To think of it , why wont we trained in first aid and CPR? Were we trained to withstand torture and pain because it was the essential in basic soldiering? Even in the civilian sector, occupational safety and health is the responsibility of all employees , from MD to tea lady. Why is the Army in old school 'gears'?

    Ex Army Officer

  18. Robert Rizal Abdullah24 August 2011 at 14:35


    I also could not understand. Soldiers were and still are exposed to all kind of safety and health hazards, be it in the camp or in operational areas. In fact they are more exposed to it than others - in many areas.

    I didn't know why first aid and CPR knowledge were not emphasised in those days. I don't know about today - whether it is a part and parcel of their daily training.