SINGAPORE - He founded a software start-up with his polytechnic friends at the age of 18, but Lance Corporal Lee Jun Jie, now 21, never expected to wield his coding prowess during his national service with the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF).
As one of the few full-time national servicemen (NSFs) recruited as an ops-tech specialist, he spots ways to streamline operations in the SCDF for better efficiency.
Last year, he developed a mobile application that sped up the process of signing out medication from the stores for SCDF emergency medical services, reducing an hours-long administrative process to just minutes, he said.
He also developed another mobile app that matches hazardous chemicals that frontliners may encounter with the relevant equipment and mitigation techniques they require, Lance Cpl Lee told The Straits Times on Thursday (May 5).
The computer engineering graduate from Temasek Polytechnic said: "I'm doing the same thing as I did before, only with a different purpose and impact."
He is one of several NSFs who work behind the scenes in the SCDF in unconventional vocations besides firefighting, rescue, hazardous materials operations and emergency medical services.
The NSFs are assigned to these vocations through skill-set-matching in the NSF's training phase, and the roles include multimedia specialists and supply chain specialists who work side-by-side with full-timers in their tasks. SCDF added data analysts to this approach in 2015 and ops-tech roles in 2019.
Another NSF with a non-frontline role is Corporal Lucas Poh, 19, a data analyst with the SCDF's Dynamic Resource Optimisation (DRO).
To help ambulances get to patients faster, he studies data to track demands for emergency medical services and identify ways to position ambulances strategically in fire stations to minimise travel time.
The DRO was launched in 2015 and aims to use data to deploy ambulances more efficiently, as well as to optimise more daily operations in the coming years.
Lance Corporal Edward Tan, 25, said he was surprised that the skills he learnt studying digital film and television at Temasek Polytechnic could be applied in his national service.
As a multimedia specialist with SCDF, he has produced television commercials, recruitment videos and operational instruction videos for the force.
He said: "Being able to do what I love for two years has been really eye-opening, and I enjoy it because it's something that I want to pursue in the future as well."