Emergency preparedness bags to be given to schools

Each contains first-aid kit, water bottle and guide on how to tailor bags to fit family's needs

The Red Cross is distributing emergency preparedness bags to nearly 100 schools, from primary to post-secondary levels - the latest in a string of initiatives to improve community preparedness for mass emergencies.

Each bag consists of basic essential survival equipment, such as a first-aid kit, water bottle and batteries, with the bags meant to be used as a teaching aid by youth volunteers to help their schoolmates prepare their own ones at home.

The bags also come with a guidebook, created by youth volunteers, on how to tailor such bags to fit each family's needs.

For example, a family with a baby might pack a change of baby attire and wet wipes if they need to grab the bag and go in the event of an emergency.

Launching the bags at the Red Cross' First Aid Fiesta in Ang Mo Kio yesterday, Home Affairs Parliamentary Secretary Amrin Amin said first-aid skills are critical, especially in the face of heightened terrorism threats.

Speaking to The Sunday Times, Mr Amrin, said the youth volunteers are vital "opinion multipliers" in sharing first-aid knowledge, in line with the national goal of having a first aider in every home.

"Singapore is a prized target. We are open about it," he said.

"We might as well be ahead of the curve and be prepared. We don't want to be caught off-guard."

Even without the threat of terrorist attacks, having knowledge of first-aid skills is useful in an ageing society, said Mr Amrin, who is also an MP for Sembawang GRC.

Having more Singaporeans who know how to carry out first aid can help to ease manpower constraints in the community, he added.

Volunteer instructor Yeo Zong Han, 20, who accidentally joined Red Cross through an administrative error eight years ago, said he has since learnt how to bandage wounds, prepare for a crisis and empathise with people in need.

"Most days, I carry a first-aid kit in my bag," he said.

He added: "I'm not kiasi (scared to die), but I just want to be prepared to help someone if the time comes."

He encouraged fellow youth to not just learn first-aid skills, but to also practise them frequently by volunteering at various events.

The measures to improve community emergency preparedness include having one automated external defibrillator for every two Housing Board blocks islandwide by next year.

Three years ago, the Singapore Civil Defence Force launched a myResponder app to alert volunteers to nearby cardiac arrest victims.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 11, 2018, with the headline 'Emergency preparedness bags to be given to schools'. Print Edition | Subscribe