SCDF team is runner-up in Asian emergency medical services contest

The Singapore Civil Defence Force team which participated in the EMS Asia contest, held in Davao City, Philippines.
The Singapore Civil Defence Force team which participated in the EMS Asia contest, held in Davao City, Philippines.ST PHOTO: ALVIN HO

SINGAPORE - A man suffers a heart attack and falls down an escalator with his baby in a pram. As a result, his hysterical wife suffers an asthma attack and collapses.

This dramatic scenario, played out by actors and mannequins, is what a Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) team faced during a regional competition which pitted 10 emergency medical services teams (EMS) from five countries against each other.

The SCDF team was the first runner-up in the EMS Asia contest, held in Davao City, Philippines, winning US$400 ($544) and two pieces of spinal immobilisation equipment - but losing out to the host country.

Participants told The Straits Times on Monday (June 25) that the competition, organised by the Asian Association for Emergency Medical Services (AAEMS), had been a good learning experience.

It was the first time that Singapore had entered the event and team leader, Staff Sergeant (SSG) Jennifer Lee, 33, said: "It is good to open up to others to understand their difficulties in their country. We all learnt that knowledge has to be shared to progress."

She added that in Singapore, hospitals are located in areas that are accessible to the public, while emergency services in other countries can take longer to reach rural areas.

The contest, held from June 16 to 19, tested teams on their ability to manage patients and situations in pre-hospital settings - however some of Singapore's team members also had their own personal problems to overcome.

The team's trainer - Second Warrant Officer (2WO) Kamsani A. Hamid - said the group only had three weeks to prepare, and it was a struggle to get all four members together at the same time as they all worked different 12-hour shifts.

SSG Jackson Lee fell sick with a high fever on the second day of the competition but still managed to take part. The 27-year-old said: "I thought of the time and effort we put into this...and I didn't want to let my teammates down."

For SSG Parminder Kaur, a paramedic for 18 years, it was her first work trip away from her husband and two children. However the 39-year-old said: "The team took really good care of me and I didn't feel homesick at all."

The SCDF has around 250 paramedics, some of whom are selected to take part in the annual Singapore-Global Firefighter and Paramedics Challenge to sharpen their rescue techniques.