Timely use of CPR, AED can save lives

Mouth-to-mouth breathing is a recommended part of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) ("Need for a better way to administer CPR" by Mr Teo Kok Seah; June 7). When used together with an automated external defibrillator (AED), it provides the best chance to save the lives of those in cardiac arrest.

However, we do recognise that some members of the public may be hesitant when it comes to mouth-to-mouth contact with another person.

Most collapses (about 70 per cent) occur at home and witnesses are usually family members who would perform CPR on their loved ones more readily. Currently, mechanical ventilation devices are too bulky to be recommended for laypeople to carry around.

The National Resuscitation Council (NRC) and Singapore Heart Foundation (SHF) urge that any bystander unable to perform mouth-to-mouth breathing should at least carry out effective chest compressions till the arrival of an ambulance crew by the patient's side. If the bystander is unsure as to how to do CPR, call 995 and follow instructions on CPR given by the medical dispatcher until the ambulance crew arrives at the scene.

Over the past few years, various agencies have organised CPR and AED training for the public. Since 2011, the NRC's 80 accredited training centres have organised mass CPR + AED training sessions to teach the public these life-saving skills.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) and People's Association also set up a Community First Responder Programme in May last year to provide accredited CPR and AED certification courses free of charge to all Singaporeans and permanent residents at community centres.

This year, the SHF and MOH's Unit for Pre-Hospital Emergency Care jointly developed the dispatcher-assisted first responder (Dare) programme which was supported by the Singapore Civil Defence Force.

The programme includes a 45-minute video teaching the public about CPR and the operation of an AED, guided by a 995 medical dispatcher. Those who wish to find out more about the programme can contact the Dare team at

Modern public AEDs typically have battery lives of three to five years, and require little maintenance. We have taken note of Mr Teo's suggestion to have wired AEDs.

V. Anantharaman (Professor)


National Resuscitation Council, Singapore

Vernon Kang

Chief Executive Officer

Singapore Heart Foundation

Marcus Ong (Associate Professor)


Unit for Pre-Hospital Emergency Care

Ministry of Health

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 21, 2015, with the headline 'Timely use of CPR, AED can save lives'. Subscribe