Help crisis victims with psychological first aid

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli (right) observes a first aid demonstration at Singapore's first psychological first aid training programme yesterday morning (Sept 10) held at Our Tampines Hub.
Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli (right) observes a first aid demonstration at Singapore's first psychological first aid training programme yesterday morning (Sept 10) held at Our Tampines Hub. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO
Attendees of Singapore's first psychological first aid training programme yesterday morning (Sept 10) held at Our Tampines Hub pose for a group photo.
Attendees of Singapore's first psychological first aid training programme yesterday morning (Sept 10) held at Our Tampines Hub pose for a group photo.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

One-day programme by Singapore Red Cross trains people to help others cope with the emotional aftermath of a crisis

University student Aisha Nachyia is no stranger to the basics of first aid, having taken a course during her polytechnic days.

But earlier this month, the 21-year-old became one of the first in Singapore to learn psychological first aid, which trains people to help those suffering emotional trauma during a crisis.

The Singapore Red Cross officially launched Singapore's first psychological first aid training programme yesterday morning, in conjunction with World First Aid Day.

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli, who was the guest of honour at the event, stressed the importance of learning first aid - both physical and psychological.

Six in 10 people who collapse outside a hospital do not get help from bystanders, he pointed out, even though every minute that a person does not get the appropriate help lowers his survival rate by up to 10 per cent. "If all of us can identify the signs of a cardiac arrest and know how to perform CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), we can actually save many lives," he said.

He added that having people trained to help others cope with the emotional aftermath of a crisis is also critical in building up community resilience, especially in the wake of a terrorist attack.

"Psychological first aid is more relevant today than it was before, with the global threat of terrorism looming over us," he said.

"It is important to strengthen the resilience of the community and the nation to deal with crises that come our way."

The new one-day course - which the public can sign up for on the Red Cross website - aims to give people the confidence to deal with others in crisis situations without worrying that they may do or say the wrong things.

"For example, we learn active listening - that's listening to what people say without jumping to conclusions on how they might be feeling," Ms Aisha explained.

"People may also not be in the right mind to think straight in a crisis, so we stay close and keep an eye on them so that they won't throw themselves into danger."

Yesterday's event at Our Tampines Hub also saw some 600 Red Cross volunteers and students from primary and secondary schools setting a local record for the largest simultaneous first aid demonstration.

It was one of several events organised yesterday to mark World First Aid Day. Others included a People's Association workshop to equip 100 entrepreneurs with life-saving skills, and a carnival at *Scape in Orchard, with highlights such as an escape-the-room game where participants could learn first-aid skills.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 11, 2016, with the headline 'Help crisis victims with psychological first aid'. Print Edition | Subscribe