First-aid know-how empowers people to help

I thank Madam Tamilselvi Muniyandy ("Doctor went beyond call of duty"; last Friday) and Ms Yeo Pei Shi ("Bystander effect: Training in skills makes people more willing to help"; Sunday) for highlighting the importance of knowing and administering first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Basic first response can increase chances of survival, mitigate serious injuries and help to calm and stabilise affected people in an emergency.

However, about 60 per cent of casualties do not receive any form of bystander assistance before the arrival of the ambulance.

If all of us can identify the signs of cardiac arrest and know how to perform CPR, we can save many more lives.

The Singapore Red Cross (SRC) believes that first-aid training is key in empowering bystanders to respond to emergencies, and strongly advocates the national goal of "one first aider in every home".

To this end, the SRC Academy has been training the public in first aid since the 1960s, and continues to innovate first-aid training and enable first-aid learning for everyone, everywhere.

Besides Standard First Aid, we have introduced a suite of courses tailored for specific needs over the years. These include Occupational First Aid for people at workplaces, Infant/Child First Aid for parents and teachers, Eldercare First Aid for caregivers, and the Citizen First Responder, which Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean launched earlier this year, to increase bystander first response in our community.

The ageing population and threat of a civil emergency, including terrorist activities, underscore the importance of first-aid learning.

Psychological first aid is an important second line of defence. In any crisis, besides handling physical wounds, a major challenge is managing fears and psychological wounds.

Psychosocial skills empower people to care for and better understand one another. This helps people to forge stronger and closer bonds, in both critical emergency situations and ongoing day-to-day situations within families and our community.

Equipped with both physical and psychological first-aid skills, we can be a resilient community to overcome adversities that may come our way.

First aid and psychological first aid are key components of the SG Secure movement. They will help build a truly united, alert and, most importantly, empowered people who can keep Singapore strong.

Benjamin William
Secretary-General/Chief Executive
Singapore Red Cross

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 22, 2016, with the headline 'First-aid know-how empowers people to help'. Print Edition | Subscribe