Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs), which are used in the event an individual suffers a heart attack, will be installed in all 107 community centres and clubs in Singapore by the end of the year.
Health Minister Gan Kim Yong made this announcement at the launch of the Community First Responder Programme, organised by the People's Association and the Ministry of Health.
The Community First Responder programme will train 4,500 grassroots leaders on how to use these life-saving devices as well as how to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR. The training will be done over the next two years and residents are also encouraged to join in.
"When someone collapses, more often than not, the closest at the scene would normally be bystanders and passers-by. It would therefore be vital to ensure that there are more people trained in basic life-saving skills such as CPR to render immediate help before the ambulance arrives," said Mr Gan.
In a new three-hour course, residents and grassroots leaders will learn how to do chest compressions, mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and be taught how to use the AED. Contrary to traditional defibrillators, the AED can be used by the layperson who follows simple audio visual commands on the device.
In Singapore, nearly 3,000 people die from coronary heart disease or heart attack each year. About half of them collapse before they can reach a hospital for help. When a person's heart stops beating suddenly, the survival rate of the victim decreases by 7 to 10 per cent for every minute delayed in providing CPR or using an AED, noted Mr Gan in his speech on Sunday.
Community centres and clubs are a natural choice for installing AEDs as many seniors congregate there, said chief executive director of PA, Mr Ang Hak Seng. Already, 1,500 PA staff including community centre counter staff have been trained to use AEDs.