On a field trip with students, I bring along a first aid kit that caters for gaping wounds and the like – serious injuries only. In such instance of the necessity of its use, a taxi pickup or an ambulance rendezvous may be necessary. Emergencies requiring the police can never be ruled out either.
So Tommy agreed to be my “safety call centre” for my mangrove field trip tomorrow. The person manning the “call centre” is someone enjoying a cuppa while we are out in the field. He or she has to be somewhat familiar with the field site, be aware of typical field trip operations and most importantly be decisive in an emergency.
You see, this is the person I may call on to direct emergency services to a pre-arranged evacuation point to pick up a casualty or meet a runner who will direct emergency services to the victim. Presumably if I do need to call on the person, the situation is a complex one requiring my full attention. Alternatively the handphone signal in the area is too weak to support a conversation providing detailed directions to emergency services.
Despite the fact I may be able to rely on Malaysian or Indonesian signals (I can never give up my auto-roam subscription), there are dead zones in which no one’s handphone can make a call out. In such a situation, while trying to send out an SMS through a brief window, a young fit person would be volunteered to sprint away in search of a decent signal. When acquired, all they’d have to do is alert my call centre.
Imagine having to do this for all my field trips over the years. I usually recruit a friend from outside my volunteer circles to do this job. This usually demands a separate recce when a route can bee misinterpreted and I still remember Chien struggling on an unfamiliar bike during a trip to learn the layout of Pulau Ubin in the late 90’s. It was for an event that predated Pedal Ubin or the Journey series.
I had blown up a paper map of Ubin for him in two sections and provided pins to track the positions of groups as we brought the youth around Ubin on bike and foot. These days, Google Earth, Google Maps and the like make it easy to annotate satellite maps for the call center.
And there are other resources – while preparing the route map for tomorrow, I wanted to double check the location of an important petrol station land mark. I chanced upon this mashup by MantaRay on earth.sg, how useful!