Picture this: You are out and about when someone in your vicinity suddenly collapses. You rush over to check the person’s pulse but feel nothing. At the same time, his breathing has stopped. What do you do?
Instead of panicking, Mr Rex Ang draws on his training in first aid and basic cardiac life support to stabilise the individual. He removes medical devices such as a pulse oximeter and thermometer from his trauma bag to monitor the person’s vital signs. He then performs cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
The 20-year-old is neither a doctor nor a paramedic. He is a nursing student and among 40,000 members of the public who have registered as community first responders (CFRs) on the myResponder mobile application.
Developed by the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), the mobile app alerts CFRs within 400m of a cardiac arrest case. This enables them to render immediate help through simple medical intervention.
Says Mr Ang: “I became a community first responder in late 2016. I think it’s important to have a first responder in every household, so we can build a community that is trained and willing to help.
“It’s a bit like fostering a kampung spirit among neighbours. When someone needs help, others can come to their rescue.”
The terrorism threat to Singapore remains high, and it is more important than ever for Singaporeans to band together and safeguard their way of life. This is the core message of the SGSecure movement that aims to strengthen security and build community resilience against terror threats.
More than 2,800 CFRs have arrived at incident scenes to help after receiving notifications from SCDF. By end-August, the myResponder function will be incorporated into the SGSecure app so that more people can access it to offer help.
This move reinforces Senior Parliamentary Secretary Sun Xueling’s call for the public to galvanise and assist others should a crisis occur. Speaking at the SGSecure Community Conference in January, she urged Singaporeans to stay united and keep the nation strong in peacetime and in crisis.
“At the end of the day, SGSecure is about that one moment. That one moment, when a terrorist attack occurs, when it comes to the crunch, how prepared are we?"
The SGSecure movement has gained traction among citizens from all walks of life. More than 51,000 businesses in Singapore have appointed at least one SGSecure representative from each company to serve as a link to the authorities in a crisis and drive a workplace emergency programme.
Ms Ann Sim, 32, is doing her part for the community as a voluntary medic with the SCDF’s Civil Defence Auxiliary Unit. The Singapore Airlines cabin crew, who previously worked as a staff nurse in Changi General Hospital and an emergency medicine nurse in Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, responds to calls for help across Singapore as a voluntary medic.
One of her most memorable experiences was helping to deliver a baby in an emergency childbirth while on the road.
Her medical training has come in handy in her career with the national airline too. She recalls a pre-flight incident when she rendered assistance to a baby who had momentarily stopped breathing on the plane.
“Everything turned out well and the flight managed to take off. The passengers were relieved and happy,” she adds.
A shared mindset
To forge a society of ready responders and life-savers, the Government is organising outreach initiatives among both the young and old.
A new series of SGSecure roadshows will be held in shopping malls from August 23. Each roadshow is held over a weekend to allow more participants to learn about the terrorism threat and pick up emergency preparedness skills. Participants will also be able to directly participate in a simulated terror attack, putting their knowledge and skills picked up at the roadshow into action as the simulation unfolds.
Primary and secondary schools in Singapore have also started incorporating SGSecure-related messages and skillsets into learning curriculums.
Primary school students are exposed to emergency scenarios and age-appropriate concepts through a series of Stay Prepared storybooks, developed by the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Education. Meanwhile, secondary school students are taught practical lessons on life-saving skills, such as using an automated external defibrillator (AED), to enhance community first response to cardiac arrest cases.
Ms Chloe Wong, 16, believes that such skills play a crucial role in ensuring Singapore’s safety. The East Spring Secondary School student is a member of her school’s National Civil Defence Cadet Corps, and has served as first aid personnel at public events like Tiong Bahru Community Club's Emergency Preparedness Day and this year’s Chingay Parade.
As part of her co-curricular commitments, she also shares her knowledge on life-saving skills such as CPR and improvised first aid with students from East Spring Primary School. She emphasises that everyone has a role to play and should contribute to keeping communities and the country safe and secure.
“Knowing these life-saving skills is important. We can’t just rely solely on the SCDF, the Singapore Armed Forces and the Singapore Police Force. It’s our responsibility to keep Singapore safe as well.”