KUALA LUMPUR – When poisonous animals like snakes enter your house or there is a hornets’ nest in your compound, the number to dial for help is that of the Civil Defence Department (JPAM).
The job has become synonymous with JPAM, like that of their blue uniform and orange beret.
Despite being established in 1939, many people still do not know the existence of JPAM, and this has become a major challenge for its director-general Datuk Zaitun Ab Samad to change the people’s challenge that the department’s main task is not to catch snakes.
“That task is just one of the social services offered by the department,” she said in an exclusive interview with Bernama.
Zaitun, who was appointed to the post in May last year, said many people were still not clear of JPAM’s role, with most of them having the perception that the department’s main task was to catch dangerous animals.
She said JPAM, previously referred to as JPA3, served as the third layer of the country’s defence after the Malaysian Armed Forces and the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) and played an equally important role.
“The first function is maintaining public security in time of war. For example, when the country is under attack, the armed forces will go out to defend the country and the police become the second liner.
“JPAM will assist in maintaining public security when the armed forces and the police are defending the country,” she added.
She said the second function was to assist the people during natural disasters and provide emergency aid.
In times of peace, the role of JPAM, among others, is to provide assistance in road accidents, accidents at workplace and in suicide case, she added.
Zaitun said improving public acceptance of the department and making it an outstanding entity in improving the people’s preparedness with knowledge on disaster were among her key performance index (KPI).
“Our strategy is to make JPAM a strong uniformed team, to be synonymous with defence, not just snakes,” she added.
She said several programmes were being implemented to improve public’s acceptance of the department, including the Civil Defence Security Awareness Programme (PROKSPA) for school and kindergarten students, Civil Defence cadet for secondary school students and the Civil Defence under-graduates volunteers (Kor SISPA) for university students.
JPAM, which will celebrate its 63rd anniversary this year, has about 850,000 volunteer members and 570 permanent staff.
What makes JPAM different from the armed forces and the police is that the backbone of the JPAM team is made up of members of the society who want to serve voluntarily, said Zaitun. – BERNAMA