SINGAPORE - When a fire broke out in her neighbour’s flat last month, Madam Ranganathan Mouttoulatchoumy went over to help and saw that a mattress there was in flames.
The domestic worker, 50, took the elderly neighbour's hand, escorted her out to the corridor and asked her to stay put.
But as she went around raising the alarm about the fire, the neighbour, who is in her 80s, went back into the flat to try to retrieve her belongings.
Madam Mouttoulatchoumy and two others - undergraduate Baskaran Sabarish, 22, and senior project coordinator Soh Shao Leong, 46 - went separately into the flat, which was filling with dark smoke, and helped to get the neighbour out.
On Saturday morning (July 10), the three neighbours were lauded for their efforts in helping others during the fire at Block 141 Yishun Ring Road on June 29.
Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam, a Nee Soon GRC MP, presented them with the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) Community First Responder Award.
Ten people, including a police officer, were hospitalised for smoke inhalation in the fire and about 100 residents had evacuated themselves from the block before the SCDF arrived.
Mr Sabarish, who also helped to alert other residents to the fire, said the elderly woman has been a neighbour for almost 20 years and they exchange greetings and chat a little almost daily. The woman lives in the flat with her daughter and granddaughter, according to her neighbours.
He said: "I'm just glad that everyone didn't panic and they knew what to do, which is to evacuate immediately."
Mr Soh said he has known the elderly neighbour for almost nine years, and they exchange traditional snacks during festivals like Deepavali and Chinese New Year.
He added that the neighbour is well - he had met her on Monday at a clinic where his family members had gone for a medical review.
Mr Shanmugam said he is heartened by the spirit of neighbourliness among the residents.
He said: "Every time there is trouble, there is some silver lining. The silver lining here is how the community came together - the grassroots, the town council, the HDB, and residents nearby.
"Everyone came together to help, and then SCDF moves in. So that is what I find very good and we need to strengthen that."