Father's near-death experience inspires man to pick up CPR and AED skills

Mr Raymond Balakrishnan Prabahaka (right), with his son, B. P. Jackson. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE - Valet operator B. P. Jackson was woken up by his wife late at night in July 2019 when she witnessed his 74-year-old father suffering a cardiac arrest and collapsing.

"I saw him on the floor and there was a pool of blood surrounding him," said Mr Jackson, 49.

Detecting no pulse for his father, he called 995 and attempted to carry out cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) - with instructions from the dispatcher.

Elaborating on his emotions during the ordeal, he said: "It was really stressful, I did not know if I was doing it correctly. If I had the experience and the knowledge, I would have been able to deliver it better."

With his father's condition now stable, Mr Jackson intends to join a CPR and automated external defibrillator (AED) course and get certified as a first aider to be able to help others facing a similar situation.

An AED is a medical device that can analyse the heart's rhythm and, if necessary, deliver an electrical shock to help the heart re-establish an effective rhythm.

"(The course) will be useful at any point in time, so that you would be more confident that what you are doing is right," he said.

Encouraging others to pick up such skills, he added: "It is extremely crucial yet easy to learn, and anyone of any age can learn it and will be able to deliver it."

Mr Jackson was sharing his experience at the launch of the Temasek Foundation-SingHealth pre-hospital emergency care programme, which aims to improve survival outcomes during medical emergencies in South-east Asia.

One person who is lending a helping hand is ITE College West hospitality operations student Darryl Lee, 17. He not only possesses such skills, but also puts them to good use as a first responder registered with the Singapore Civil Defence Force's (SCDF) myResponder app.

myResponder, launched in 2019, notifies members of the public of cardiac arrest and fire cases within 400m of their location, in the hope that they can step in to save lives and handle minor fires in the first critical minutes.

Darryl has attended to nine cardiac arrest incidents since signing up with the app in November 2020.

In one incident last July, he woke up at around 11am to an alert that a man at a nearby hawker centre had a medical emergency.

Without hesitation, he rushed to the scene, bagging the man with an oxygen mask that was provided by a nearby clinic while another person performed CPR.

He was subsequently informed by the SCDF that his timely aid led to the man's recovery.

Darryl has attended to nine cardiac arrest incidents since signing up with the app in November 2020. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Darryl said age is not a barrier in family members' receptiveness to his help.

"They are very open to people like me who step forward. I could see that they are very grateful that I appeared at their front door since they are often helpless and cannot do anything because they are not trained," he said.

Darryl was first inspired to help as he had taken healthcare modules in secondary school. He said each case he attends to makes him realise the importance of the work he is doing.

"First responders are really very essential in the community because time is really of the essence," he said. "For cardiac arrest cases, there are only a few minutes for a patient to have a second chance at survival."

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