IKRAM, BOATMAN AND MEDICAL AIDE IN THE JUNGLES OF BELUM

BASHARIAH ZAINUDDIN

BANDING, Jan 12 (Bernama) -- The ‘Wilderness Medical’ badge on Ikram Ismail’s shirt aroused curiosity on what this boatman cum tour guide did besides ferrying people in the waterways of one of the world’s oldest rainforests. 

Moreover, the 22-year-old had an impressive first aid kit kept nearby, and as such, it made a lot of sense to stick close to him. 

Speaking to Bernama later, Ikram explained that Wilderness Medical (WM) is an organisation that provides early medical care for, as the name suggests, those in the wilderness and remote areas, such as jungles, mountain and hilly areas or waterways. 

Ikram explained that besides being guides, they were trained to provide early medical treatment if expedition members were to be involved in accidents or face emergency health situations, he added. 

Ikram, who has undergone training via a series of courses, including the Wilderness First Responder (WFR) course, said WM responders played the same roles as paramedics who provide early treatment to stabilise victims at the scene before further treatment is administered.

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However, Ikram said to provide early treatment, prior consent from the victim was needed and if they decline treatment, then it cannot be forced on them, while adding it was not easy to be awarded Wilderness Medical officer status as they had to earn it by attending courses and passing special examinations.

The responder badge is theirs only when those hurdles are overcome. To date, only 101 individuals in the country are certified and they are stationed in several locations of the country. 

Besides early medical treatment, Ikram is also knowledgable in medicinal wild plants and knows how to apply them for treatment when the situation warrants it. For example, he said the chromolaena odorata plant, or commonly known in the country as ‘daun kapalterbang’, is best used to stop bleeding. 

“The plants in the wild have a lot of nutritional and medicinal value and this is proven by the fact that wildlife consume them when they suffer from illnesses. So, for us who are in the jungles and forests, we can also use them when necessary. 

On whether he was missing out on his youth stuck in a remote area and far from the bright lights of the towns and cities, Ikram said on the contrary, he felt proud to be where he was and able to help people, and that too, at such a young age. 

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“In fact, I would like to thank my father for helping me foster a special friendship with nature. The experience harnessed since then has been invaluable,” he said. 

On his experiences as a boat  and houseboat operator at the Temenggor Lake, Ikram said that role began just after his Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia examinations.

“At that time, my father wanted me to help him with the boat service business, and I took the opportunity to learn how to pilot the boats,” he said. 

Once he was good at it, he applied for a licence with the Temenggor Lake Boat Operators Association. 

Although he was taking care of his dad’s houseboat operations, Ikram said he has dreams of calling one (houseboat) his own in the future. 

-- BERNAMA