Not 'all at sea': Navy personnel adept at multiple roles

On board the warship RSS Vigour, naval chef Mark Lim also doles out lozenges and wraps up cuts when his colleagues injure themselves as he is the vessel's main first aider.
On board the warship RSS Vigour, naval chef Mark Lim also doles out lozenges and wraps up cuts when his colleagues injure themselves as he is the vessel's main first aider.PHOTO: MINDEF

Naval chef Mark Lim not only whips up meals for his colleagues on the warship RSS Vigour, he also doles out lozenges and wraps up cuts when they injure themselves as he is the vessel's main first aider.

Last Tuesday, however, marked the first time he used cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on a real person - more than a decade after he was first certified.

The 32-year-old was having a drink at a coffee shop in Woodlands when he heard a man two tables away asking his wife to wake up.

"I was curious and went over to ask what had happened," he said. "I saw her lips were blue, and I knew something was wrong."

He first asked the husband to lay his wife, a 56-year-old woman who was diagnosed with cardiovascular disease in February, on the floor. He then cleared a few chairs and administered CPR.

Even though it was his first time doing so, Mr Lim said of his first aid help: "In the moment I was pretty clear about what I had to do. My motivation was just to help in whatever way I can."

Like Mr Lim, other navy crew members also hold multiple roles. A flight deck marshaller, who directs aircraft landing on and leaving a ship, could also be called on to fight fires and perform other damage control measures if needed. Other crew members take turns to be the lookout.

"As crew members, we are both combatants and technicians, not only capable of fighting aboard the ship, but also maintaining and repairing the ship systems at sea and in harbour," he said.

But if left up to Mr Lim from the start, he would have "preferred to handle one thing at a time".

He cooks two meals for 46 crew members a day, a task that can be backbreaking at times.

"But we have to keep our crew size lean, and in between juggling both roles, I have learnt how to be a person my colleagues can depend on," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 30, 2018, with the headline 'Not 'all at sea': Navy personnel adept at multiple roles'. Print Edition | Subscribe