SINGAPORE - When business advisor Martin Wong was called to assist a man seen vomiting and perspiring at a food centre in June, he feared he was suffering a heart attack.
Mr Wong, who is trained to give cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR), ran 400m from his Republic Plaza office to Golden Shoe for what turned out to be a false alarm. "I was aware that every second counts and performing CPR quickly can really save lives," he said.
The 44-year-old was alerted by the Singapore Civil Defence Force's (SCDF) myResponder app, which calls qualified volunteers to suspected heart attack cases until emergency services arrive.
It is part of the SCDF's Save-A-Life initiative, which was officially launched on Thursday by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who placed an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) at a block in Pasir Ris.
The initiative aims to increase the survival rate of cardiac arrest victims by building a network of trained community responders.
There are currently 160 AEDs installed at the lift lobbies of HDB blocks in six constituencies, including Pasir Ris West.
The SCDF plans to increase the number of AEDs in these areas from 160 to about 400 by 2017, with the eventual aim of having one AED for every two to three HDB blocks nationwide.
SCDF Chief Medical Officer Dr Ng Yih Yng said the myResponder mobile app is the "first of its kind on a national level" to be integrated with the SCDF's emergency dispatch and ambulance services.
"When someone calls 995, we can send out an alert to people within 400m of the cardiac arrest case and they will be able to help," he added.
AEDs listed on the app are drawn from National AED Registry, which was created by the Singapore Heart Foundation (SHF) and SCDF in April.
There are currently about 800 AEDs listed on the registry and although other unofficial lists contain more, Dr Yih said those on the registry are publicly accessible at all times and that data is kept updated by SHF together with business owners.
The move has been welcomed by Pasir Ris resident Chen Ruiqi, 41, whose father-in-law collapsed and died of a heart attack in 2003.
She was unable to render assistance then, but has since gone for training in CPR and AED usage.
"With the AEDs now available at the HDB blocks and residents going for training, I feel more confident to help if an emergency happens," she said.
Individuals trained in CPR and AED can register as community first responders on the myResponder app, which is available for download on all Apple and Android phones.
Members of the public can also send in photos of AEDs with "geo-tagged" location data if they find new locations that are not in the registry.
The SHF will approach AED owners for permission before listing them on the registry.