SINGAPORE - The medical care provided after the incident that happened to late Singapore actor Aloysius Pang was adequate but could be improved, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen in Parliament on Monday (May 6).
However, the medical care provided did not cause or contribute to Corporal First Class (NS) Pang's death, he added.
Dr Ng was reporting some of the findings of the independent Committee of Inquiry (COI) set up to investigate the circumstances of the operationally ready national serviceman's (NSman) death in January.
The COI found that the incident was due to the lapses of all three servicemen in the cabin of the Singapore Self-Propelled Howitzer (SSPH) at that time.
CFC (NS) Pang, 28, an armament technician with the 268th Battalion Singapore Artillery, died four days after suffering injuries on Jan 19 during the Exercise Thunder Warrior at the Waiouru training area in New Zealand.
After he was crushed by the gun barrel at around 7pm (New Zealand time), he was attended to by a medic on site and evacuated at 7.10pm to the Battalion Casualty Station, where he was assessed and stabilised.
At 7.50pm, he was evacuated to the Waiouru Base Medical Centre, and two hours later was sent by helicopter to Waikato Hospital, a regional trauma centre in Hamilton, where he underwent surgery a number of times to treat his injuries.
The five-man committee, which has completed its investigations, said that in view of the extenuating circumstances caused by the distance and the availability of the helicopter, the medical care provided was adequate but can be improved.
"However, the COI is also of the opinion that this did not cause or contribute to the demise of CFC (NS) Pang," said Dr Ng.
Among the seven recommendations made by the COI was for full-time and NSman medical officers in relevant appointments to be more familiar with helicopter evacuation protocols.
"NSmen medical officers could also re-familiarise themselves with acute trauma care by being given temporary registration as observers either in the emergency and surgery departments during call-ups," said the COI.
Another suggestion was to formalise arrangements between the SAF and receiving hospitals at the appropriate level in the hospital administration.
This is so that Singaporean doctors attached to care for injured servicemen overseas can be kept abreast of clinical developments and contribute more effectively, added the COI.
As part of new measures to enhance safety, Dr Ng said that medical officers will be required to undergo refresher training on helicopter evacuation processes before their deployment for overseas medical support.
"New initiatives will also be explored to enhance their exposure to acute trauma care," he added, without specifying the initiatives.