Deputy Sultan comforts Bruneians hurt in bus crash
By Azlan Othman, Siti Hajar & Hakim Hayat

His Royal Highness Prince Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Deputy Sultan, yesterday morning showed his compassion when he visited victims of the ill-fated bus that crashed in Sabah earlier this week at RIPAS Hospital, where he saw firsthand the condition they were in.

It was a deeply moving moment as patients wept tears of joy and gratitude as the members of the media approached them for an interview after the Deputy Sultan left their wards.

"His Royal Highness was grateful to Allah the Almighty that we survived the mishap," said Hjh Tuah Hj Damit, one of the survivors.

The horrific accident at Jalan Ranau-Tamparuli, Kg Kaporingan in Sabah involved 32 passengers and a driver. Seven Bruneians lost their lives in the mishap.

As of Thursday morning, 23 patients have been admitted to RIPAS Hospital. Out of this number, two of them were being treated at the Surgical Intensive Care Unit (SICU), 16 were admitted to Ward 7, three were admitted to Ward 2 and two have been discharged.

The last two injured Bruneians were flown back late yesterday afternoon from Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Sabah.

The Deputy Sultan's visit began with welcoming remarks by Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Laila Diraja Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Hazair bin Hj Abdullah, the Minister of Culture, Youth & Sports who is also the Acting Minister of Health.

The Deputy Sultan was also briefed by the Medical Commander of Incident Command Centre, Dr Ang Swee Hui, on steps that were taken when an alert of the tragedy was triggered from information obtained from the Internet at around 7pm on Tuesday (December 20).

An hour after receiving the alert, the Incident Command Centre at RIPAS Hospital was activated.

A high-level assessment team from the Ministry of Health, comprising the Acting Minister, Permanent Secretary, Acting Director-General of Medical Services, Medical Superintendent of RIPAS Hospital, Head of Critical Care Services, a paramedic, an ICU nurse and an Operation Theatre nurse, left for Kota Kinabalu on a chartered flight at 12.15am on December 21.

There were two phases in the planning and implementation of this.

Phase 1 was the deployment of medical rescue teams to Kota Kinabalu, while Phase 2 was preparing RIPAS Hospital to receive multiple casualties.

Under Phase 1, Medical Rescue Team 1 left for Kota Kinabalu via BI821 at 7.30am on Wednesday where it composed of two doctors, two nurses and a paramedic. Medical Rescue Team 2, 3 and 4 were further deployed via military flight with a total of seven doctors, seven nurses and five paramedics bringing along with them 10 casualties.

Under Phase 2, five departments were activated and five clinical services were alerted. The patients from a RBA chartered flight were received at Brunei International Airport and transferred to RIPAS Hospital via two ambulances and a bus. The patients from the military flights were received at the Royal Brunei Air Force Base in Rimba and transferred to RIPAS Hospital via ambulances.

Upon arrival at the hospital, all transferred patients were received at the Accident and Emergency Unit and the patients were triaged, resuscitated and stabilised before they were transferred to their respective treatment such as radiology, operation theatre, ICU and Major Medical Emergency (MME) wards.

According to Dr Ang, Ward 7 of RIPAS Hospital is the adult MME ward, which can accommodate 24 casualties, and should there be any overflow of casualties, they would be directed to Ward 6, which has an additional eight beds.

Ward 2, meanwhile, is the paediatric MME ward, which can accommodate five casualties, while critically injured paediatric casualties will be admitted to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU).

"Surgical ICU (SICU) has been designated to receive critically injured adult casualties. Five existing SICU patients have been transferred to Post Operative Recovery Area to accommodate for the casualties," he said.

Additional anaesthetists from Suri Seri Begawan Hospital in Kuala Belait have been deployed to manage additional patients at the ICU RIPAS Hospital. Any overflow of casualties requiring intensive care will be admitted to Ward 9, which can accommodate six additional ICU patients.

The first group of 13 patients arrived via RBA chartered flight at 1.44pm on Wednesday. Subsequently, 10 patients were brought back to Brunei via three military flights. The last flight landed at 8pm on Wednesday. In total, RIPAS Hospital has (as of Thursday morning) received 23 patients of whom 20 were adults and three were children.

Dr Ang said all patients would continue to receive quality care and medical attention from healthcare professionals in RIPAS Hospital. Some patients have been discharged after being classified as "stable", while others will need to stay at the hospital for further treatment for the next few days as they continue to gradually recover from their injuries.

Also present during the Deputy Sultan's visit to RIPAS Hospital yesterday were: Minister of Finance II at the Prime Minister's Office, Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Abdul Rahman bin Hj Ibrahim; Deputy Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, Dato Paduka Awg Hj Abdul Wahab bin Juned; Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces, Major General Dato Paduka Seri Hj Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Hj Abidin; Commissioner of Royal Brunei Police Force, Pehin Orang Kaya Pendikar Alam Dato Paduka Seri Hj Hasrin bin Dato Paduka Hj Sabtu; Permanent Secretaries at the Prime Minister's Office, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Religious Affairs, as well as other senior government officials. - Borneo Bulletin (23rd December 2011)