SCDF paramedics win global competition

The winning SCDF team is made up of (from left) Warrant Officer Zane Ang, Warrant Officer Naomi Wee, Lieutenant Noraini Kasbani and Staff Sergeant Jason Kwek. They beat five teams in the competition held in Australia.
The winning SCDF team is made up of (from left) Warrant Officer Zane Ang, Warrant Officer Naomi Wee, Lieutenant Noraini Kasbani and Staff Sergeant Jason Kwek. They beat five teams in the competition held in Australia.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

They had practised at least 60 different accident scenarios but nothing could have prepared the team for what greeted them.

The accident scene at the beach was chaotic: A couple had been flung off a jet ski and the team had to gather as much information as they could from a fisherman who witnessed the incident.

While this was all part of a simulated exercise during the annual Ferno Australia Paramedic Simulation Challenge, held in the Gold Coast, the four-member team of Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) paramedics quickly sprang into action.

They eventually beat five teams from around the region and emerged champions.

This is the third time an SCDF team has participated in the competition and the first time the force has taken first place.

"We were the only Asian team there and in some ways we felt we represented Singapore. So we reminded ourselves to stay focused and do our best," said the team leader, Warrant Officer (WO) Naomi Wee, 28. "This was, after all, similar to our daily job where there is the element of surprise and we have to respond quickly."

The chilly weather was an element the team - also made up of WO Zane Ang and Staff Sergeant Jason Kwek, both 29, and Lieutenant Noraini Kasbani, 45 - had to adapt to.

 

"It was colder than we expected so a day before the competition, we all went to buy thermal wear," said WO Wee.

The competition, held on Sept 21, took place in a tent in an open-air carpark that had been set up to look like a beach. In the accident scenario, the woman suffered a fractured arm and cut on her thigh, and had to be bandaged and given painkillers. The man was more severely wounded, with head injuries.

With the help of his teammates, WO Ang performed an endotracheal intubation procedure on the mannequin representing the man - placing a tube into the windpipe through the mouth to secure the patient's airway. The procedure was particularly challenging and while the team had practised it during training, they had never done it in real life.

WO Wee said the team initially felt daunted when they saw their competitors from countries like New Zealand and Australia.

"They were tall and big-sized, and we felt physically small. But we reminded ourselves of the people who had invested their time, knowledge and expertise to prepare us for the competition, and we didn't want to let them down," she said.

The four paramedics come from different fire stations and divisions across Singapore, and spent close to 70 hours while off-duty training for the contest. They hope that winning the trophy will bring a sense of pride to paramedics here.

Lt Noraini, who has been in the force for 20 years, said: "Hopefully, this will continue to remind the public that we are more than capable of caring for them and their loved ones in an emergency."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 01, 2018, with the headline 'SCDF paramedics win global competition'. Print Edition | Subscribe