'No second option' for team that rescued maid from ledge in Bukit Panjang

(From far left) Sgt Prem Rengasamy, Staff Sgt Chan Wai Hong, Staff Sgt Stanley Koh and Special Constable Corporal Rajdave Singh worked together with a HDB flat resident to rescue the maid on Wednesday.
(From far left) Sgt Prem Rengasamy, Staff Sgt Chan Wai Hong, Staff Sgt Stanley Koh and Special Constable Corporal Rajdave Singh worked together with a HDB flat resident to rescue the maid on Wednesday.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Quick action by NSF, 3 other policemen to pull her in from 5th floor railing to safety

Saving a woman from plunging five storeys to the ground was not something Special Constable Corporal Rajdave Singh expected to do just 1½ months into his full-time national service posting.

The 19-year-old and three other police officers from Bukit Panjang Neighbourhood Police Centre were part of the dramatic rescue on Wednesday (Dec 6) morning.

"It's not something I would have imagined seeing but, thankfully, we've had training to go through different scenarios and deal with various cases," said Cpl Singh.

At about 8am on Wednesday, a 24-year-old Myanmar maid locked herself by mistake in a room in a fifth-floor Housing Board flat at Block 241, Bukit Panjang Ring Road.

The maid, who had been working for the family for a month, tried to get out of the room by first crawling out of a window and then using the ledge to find a way back into the flat.

The incident was captured on video, and the clip has gone viral. In the video, the maid can be seen walking barefoot along the ledge towards the corridor railing.

She is seen reaching out to the railing, and a woman, a tenant of the same unit, grabs her arms. Officers and a neighbour then rush over to pull her over the railing to safety.

Leading the team of four officers responding to the case was Staff Sergeant Stanley Koh, 28. In the video, he is the first officer seen dashing forward to grab the maid's arms.

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It's not something I would have imagined seeing but, thankfully, we've had training to go through different scenarios and deal with various cases.

SPECIAL CONSTABLE CORPORAL RAJDAVE SINGH, on seeing the maid clinging on to the fifth-floor railing.

 
 

He said: "We weren't sure of the exact situation, so I observed from a distance as I did not want to agitate the subject and I approached with caution."

It was only when he got closer that he noticed the maid's hands at the railing and rushed forward to grab them.

"I realised (the woman helping in the rescue and I) couldn't pull her over, but within 15 seconds, the three other officers arrived," said Staff Sgt Koh.

With the help of a neighbour, Staff Sgt Koh, Cpl Singh, Staff Sgt Chan Wai Hong, 27, and Sgt Prem Rengasamy, 28, pulled the maid to safety.

Said Sgt Rengasamy: "There was an adrenaline rush, and the only thought I had was that she had to be saved. There was no second option."

After the rescue, Sgt Rengasamy spoke in Tamil to the maid, who understands the language.

"She was shell-shocked and there were tears... It was only then that we found out that it was not a suicide attempt," he said.

Staff Sgt Koh said the woman who helped in the rescue, a 35-year-old secretary who rented a room in the flat, was also in shock and was relieved after the incident.

Staff Sgt Chan said officers have responded to similar incidents in the past where people were seen on ledges of HDB flats, but in this case especially, time was of the essence.

"Because she was hanging there, (there was a chance that) in a few seconds, she wouldn't be able to hang on. Thankfully, we reached her in time," said Staff Sgt Chan.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 09, 2017, with the headline ''No second option' for team that rescued maid'. Print Edition | Subscribe