SINGAPORE - It was after lunch when Mr Charleston Chua walked out of the cafeteria and collapsed on the ground.
His friend Peter See immediately performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on him until the ambulance came.
"He wasn't breathing and he had already turned blue," said Mr See, 55. "I told myself that if I don't do anything, he'd probably be gone."
Mr See, an admin officer at an IT company, had picked up CPR skills during a diving course he attended in 2015.
After that close shave three years ago, Mr Chua, 61, realised the importance of CPR.
A year after the incident, the operations manager at a food and beverage company proposed to his firm to conduct in-house CPR and automated external defibrillator (AED) training for its staff and to install an AED on the premises.
"You don't use these skills everyday so you might lose touch with it. It's good to have refresher courses so that people can feel confident when they actually have to do it," said Mr Chua.
Mr See was one of 41 people who were recognised at the Survivor Awards Singapore held at Expo on Saturday (Oct 12), where they were commended for helping to resuscitate cardiac arrest victims. Among those who received certificates of commendation from the Unit for Pre-hospital Emergency Care (UPEC) were dispatchers, firefighters, paramedics and members of the public.
The awards ceremony, supported by the Singapore Heart Foundation (SHF), was held in conjunction with the latter's Project Heart event - now in its eighth edition. The yearly initiative seeks to raise awareness among Singaporeans about the importance of bystander CPR and the impact that learning CPR-AED skills can create.
An initiative by SHF to get more General Practitioners (GPs) to purchase AEDs as well as learn how to use it to respond to out-of-hospital cardiac arrests was also launched at the event.
So far, 11 clinics have come on board the AED Primary Care initiative.
"More than 2,500 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur every year in Singapore," said Dr Chee Tek Siong, organising chairman of Project Heart 2019. "For every minute that nothing is done to resuscitate the victims, their chance of survival drop by 7 to 10%...GPs are a good resource for medical emergencies in the community, and we believe that there is a potential for primary care clinics to have an AED onsite."
Close to 800 participants aged between 11 and 75 years old also took part in a mass CPR-AED certification training at the event.
Volunteer Eugene Seah, 24, has been a certified CPR-AED instructor since 2013. He is one of about 57,000 community first responders registered on the myResponder mobile app. Through the app, he has attended to more than 10 calls for emergency help.
Launched in 2015 by the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), the app allows anyone in the community who are trained to perform CPR and operate AEDs to respond to cardiac arrest cases within a 400m radius.
Mr Seah was on his way home in the evening when he responded for the first time to a notification for help sent by the app. He rushed over to a Housing Board flat in the vicinity, where a man in his 50s laid unconscious and without a pulse.
Mr Seah took turns with the SCDF personnel already at the scene to perform CPR on the victim, whose pulse returned after two minutes.
"Time is of a crucial factor," said Mr Seah. "In this case, the ambulance took some time to arrive because of the peak hour traffic. So it really depends on the bystanders to help."