A BIG push is being made to get at least one person in every household trained in a simplified cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) procedure.
The Unit for Pre-Hospital Emergency Care (Upec) has given itself five years to do it, said its medical director Marcus Ong.
The plan is to extend the Dispatcher Assisted first Responder, or Dare, programme to religious organisations and workplaces, he said. Till now, the year-old programme has been making the rounds only in schools and about 8,000, mainly students, have been trained.
We want to reach out to one million people within the next five years, Associate Professor Ong said. "We need to expand the pool of people in Singapore who are willing and able to respond in an emergency," he said.
Around 1,800 cardiac arrests occur in Singapore every year, but only 3 per cent of the victims survive them.
The Dare programme can be learnt in an hour and participants are taught CPR in simple, easy-to-follow steps: dial 995, stay on the line with a medical dispatcher, and perform CPR using an automated external defibrillator.
Dare focuses on chest compressions, which have been found to be more crucial than mouth-to-mouth ventilation in the first few minutes of a cardiac arrest. A study done by the Singapore General Hospital and the National Heart Centre Singapore showed that people who learnt simplified CPR gave better quality chest compression.
Yesterday, members of the Methodist Church of the Incarnation in Choa Chu Kang became the first among religious groups to be trained.
Sixty church-goers were given a quick session after their morning church service.
Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, who was guest of honour, however, encouraged participants to learn the standard CPR, which included mouth-to-mouth ventilation.
He added that it was the preferred method for cardiac arrest in children and in drowning cases.
He also noted that most out-of-hospital cardiac arrests happen in the victim's home or places he frequents, often in the presence of relatives, friends or neighbours.
"(So) by preparing for the unexpected, the skills acquired today may end up saving lives of someone we know or someone we love in the future if we dare to step up," he said.