60 ComfortDelGro vehicles to get AEDs as drivers learn to use them

Trained in first aid as well, these drivers will be able to serve as first responders

Starting from yesterday, a total of 50 taxis and 10 minibuses under ComfortDelGro will be equipped with automated external defibrillators (AEDs) so that the drivers can be the first responders in cases of medical emergencies.

The 60 ComfortDelGro drivers have been trained in the "triangle of life" - first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation and AED use, and firefighting - and will be alerted to any related emergencies within 1.5km of their vehicles via an app.

They will hopefully get to the scene quickly to administer first aid before medics arrive.

This should increase the chance of survival for a person who has suffered a cardiac arrest, for instance. For every minute saved, such a person's chance of survival increases by 7 per cent to 10 per cent.

"Emergencies happen anywhere, at any time. The training will help us save lives," said Mr Harry Ng, 62, one of the 50 taxi drivers in the programme.

Mr Raymond Ong, 61, another driver who attended the course conducted by the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), said he regretted not having first aid skills 10 years ago when he saw an elderly man clutch his chest and collapse to the ground. "I could not react then because I was not trained. I've joined this programme because every life is important," he said.

This is the third expansion of the AED-on-Wheels programme by the SCDF.

In 2015, 100 SMRT taxis were the first cabs to be equipped with AEDs. This was followed by 50 vehicles from the now-defunct HDT Singapore and 50 vehicles under Grab.

Since HDT Singapore shut its business last November, the 50 AEDs in its possession have been returned to the SCDF and are now redeployed to the 50 ComfortDelGro taxis.

The other 10 AEDs are sponsored by the Singapore Heart Foundation.

From 2015 to last month, the trained drivers responded to 167 cardiac arrest cases, said the SCDF.

Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim said at the launch of the programme yesterday: "Remember, every response matters, even if it is performing simple tasks like guiding emergency responders to the casualty or helping to retrieve an AED."

Addressing the drivers on the programme, he added: "I urge all of you to always be ready to respond to the next emergency when activated by the myResponder app. You can make a difference in someone's life."

Madam Kirsty Foo, 61, a ComfortDelGro driver who has just completed the SCDF course, said she thinks she will be nervous the first time she is pinged on the app.

"It is someone's life, after all. But I think I will still be able to push it to the back of my mind. I will most definitely respond, no questions asked," she said.

Madam Foo, who drives in the early morning shift from 2am to 6.30am, said it is particularly important for her to stay alert as people who suffer a heart attack during such times might not find aid forthcoming.

"Even now, when I drive female passengers, I make sure that they enter the lift to their house before I drive off. This is an extension of what I do."

Cabby V.A. Moorthy, 62, said the four-hour training that he went through was easy and interesting. "I want to show society that regardless of my age, I am able to save lives and can get ready and reach the scene as soon as possible."

More than 96,000 members of the public have registered themselves on the myResponder app, which alerts those within 400m of a victim of a medical emergency or a minor fire nearby.

Since the start of the year, they have responded to 67 per cent of all cases.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 27, 2021, with the headline '60 ComfortDelGro vehicles to get AEDs as drivers learn to use them'. Subscribe