Passers-by awarded for saving man who suffered cardiac arrest in MRT train

Six individuals and SMRT Corporation Ltd were presented with the Public Spiritedness Award. (Front, left to right) Mrs Xue Dan, Ms Nurhana bte Mohamad, Ms Nurzanariah bte Zainudin, (back, left to right) Dr Peng Kailing, Ms Hazel Tan, Mr Peter Daniel, Mr Kelvin Wui. ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
NUH senior staff nurse Nurhana bte Mohamad and Mrs Xue Dan (nursing student, Nanyang Polytechnic) were the first to attend to a man who collapsed on a train. ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

SINGAPORE - Nursing student Xue Dan, 31, was travelling by train to the National University Hospital (NUH) in the early morning of Oct 28, when she heard a loud thud.

Before her eyes, a man in his 40s had collapsed from a cardiac arrest, just moments after he entered the train at Buona Vista MRT station at about 6.30am. Mrs Xue, who was on the way to her morning shift at the hospital, rushed over only to realise that the man was having a fit.

"His fists were clenched together and his legs were twisted. I called out to him but he was not responding, so I shouted for someone to call the ambulance immediately," said Mrs Xue, who then turned him to his side to clear his airways.

The student, who is pursuing an advanced diploma in nursing at Nanyang Polytechnic, said: "I didn't hesitate at all. It was my instincts kicking in."

Within minutes, six other passers-by also stepped forward to help, including two nurses, two medical students, a doctor and an off-duty SMRT station staff.

Together, they were able to successfully revive the man before the arrival of the paramedics. He has since been discharged from the hospital.

On Tuesday (Nov 8), the group were presented a Public Spiritedness Award by the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) for their efforts as community first responders. Two other SMRT station staff were also recognised.

"To be trained with the necessary skills is not enough. To be able to apply them when the situation calls for it, that takes courage," said the man, who declined to give his name. "These bystanders turned responders did exactly that and in so doing saved my life... My heartfelt thanks go out to all those who helped that morning."

Among the first on scene included NUH Senior Staff Nurse Nurhana Mohamad, who started Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) with Mrs Xue after realising the man did not have a pulse. The 30-year-old, who was in a nearby carriage, rushed over when she heard a commotion.

They were joined by NUH Staff Nurse Hazel Tan, 27, and third year NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine students Peter Daniel and Kelvin Wui, both 21, as they took turns to conduct CPR on the man.

Meanwhile, SMRT assistant station manager Nurzanariah Zainudin, 29, alerted the train captain with the passenger emergency communication button, before running to grab the Automated External Defibrillator (AED).

The man was hoisted onto the train platform, where two shocks from the AED were applied to him before his pulse returned.

NUH's Dr Peng Kailing, 26, then directed the nurses and paramedics to stabilise the patient's condition, before accompanying him to the emergency department on the ambulance. She had also directed the nurses and paramedics to gather his vital signs.

"He was waking up and didn't realise he had blacked out. Although he was breathing, his condition may still deteriorate at any time. So we needed to keep monitoring him closely," said Dr Peng, who is with the Department of Hand and Reconstructive Microsurgery.

Said Ms Nurzanariah: "I'm glad that the man survived and that many people came forward to help him. It was truly a team effort and it shows that the public can do their part to help save lives in an emergency."

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.