Singapore

Bendemeer Road rescuers had 'super strength'

One 5-tonne truck, one victim, 30 rescuers


Associate engineer Hung Tee Keong does not exercise.

He cannot even remember the last time he stepped into a gym.

The closest he comes to weight training is during the once-a-month grocery shopping he does with his wife. He carries the grocery bags.

Yet, last Wednesday, Mr Hung, 47, and 29 others worked together and helped lift a container truck enough to free a man who had been pinned underneath after an accident.

Their rescue effort was captured on a video that went viral online, with the original video being shared almost 6,000 times.

"An empty container truck weighs between 5 tonnes (5,000kg) and 7.5 tonnes. Loaded, it can go up to 20,000kg," Dr Wang Qinghai, a senior lecturer with the Department of Physics at the National University of Singapore's Science Faculty, told The New Paper.

Dr Wang said if the truck was empty, each of the 30 rescuers would have lifted an average of 166kg each.

"That would be almost double a man's weight," the physics lecturer added.

President of the Singapore Weightlifting Federation Tom Liaw said a man who is not trained to lift weights would not be able to lift 160kg and sustain it for two seconds.

A Filipino design engineer, who wanted to be known only as Dennis, said last Wednesday that the men lifted the truck high enough and long enough for him to go under it and pull the injured man out.

"I did it instinctively. I was afraid that those lifting the truck might get tired, so I made sure to keep as low as possible. An Indian man helped me.

"The two of us managed to pull him out. It happened very quickly," he told the media last Wednesday.

How tough a challenge is it to lift that weight?

"A trained weightlifter, weighing between 90 and 100kg, could possibly lift 160kg longer.

"Without a situation where there is an adrenaline rush, they would not be able to lift the truck for over two seconds," Mr Liaw added.

An adrenaline rush is a sudden burst of energy from an increase in the hormone, adrenaline.

It increases the heart rate and blood pressure, perspiration, blood sugar, and metabolism and spurs people to action. With adrenaline, the body's entire stress response contributes to superhuman strength.

In 1982, American mum Angela Cavallo lifted a 1,588kg car high enough to replace the jack when the car slipped off and fell on her teenage son, pinning him in the wheel well.

When The New Paper informed Mr Hung that he may have lifted a whopping 166kg that day, the associate engineer with automotive supplier Continental Automotive was surprised.

"I don't know how I managed to do that. When I was helping to lift the truck, my mind was focused only on helping the victim. I guess it was a case of mind over matter," said Mr Hung.

His colleague, IT senior executive Andrew Tung, 35, who also helped in the rescue effort, agreed.

The more active Mr Tung, who plays badminton three times a week and tries to go to the gym at least once a week, said: "I may be healthy, but I don't think I'm very strong. Still, 166kg is an amazing feat. I can't explain how we could have lifted that weight."

STABLE CONDITION

The New Paper understands that the victim, believed to be a 35-year-old South Korean surnamed Kim, is in a stable condition and has been transferred to a general ward.

Mr Kim's associate told The Straits Times that he has declined to speak to the media as he was still in shock. It is understood that his parents are on their way here.

The accident happened at around 11.45am at the junction of Bendemeer Road and Boon Keng Road.

It was not clear how Mr Kim, who was dressed in a blazer and described as having K-pop star looks, ended up under the truck.

He was lying face-down under the truck when the crowd lifted it high enough for two men to pull him out.

He escaped with a leg fracture and underwent surgery at Tan Tock Seng Hospital. The 25-year-old truck driver was arrested.

I don't know how I managed to do that. When I was helping to lift the truck, my mind was only focused on helping the victim. I guess it was a case of mind over matter.

- Mr Hung Tee Keong, who was one of the rescuers

They each lifted more than their weight

When it comes to lifting a truck to free someone underneath, only half the weight of the truck needed to be raised, explained senior lecturer with the Department of Physics at the National University of Singapore's Science Faculty Wang Qinghai.

But the rescuers were not lifting that day.

"From what I observed in the video, the men were pushing, rather than lifting.

"They were actually pushing to make one side of the lorry go up slightly off the ground. If that's the case, then the weight they are trying to move would be more than half of the actual weight of the truck," he said.

"If you average that out, the force exerted would be between 100 and 200kg. That is more than each person's weight," he added.

On average, each man would have lifted around 166kg, assuming the truck was empty and weighing 5 tonnes.

"When an object is lifted, work must be done against the resistance from gravity. Working together would make it easier to lift the truck. Unfortunately, not everyone would have a firm grip on the truck to lift it," Dr Wang said.

As for the victim suffering only a fractured leg, Dr Wang says it depends on the angle and speed at which the man was hit and run over, and the position of the truck over the man's leg.

"The rubber tyres also act as a soft buffer to the weight of the entire vehicle resting on the victim. Therefore, he only suffered a fractured leg and nothing more serious.

"Similarly, a car running over a foot may hurt, but may not result in broken bones," he said.

'Human' response to help: Rescuer

HEROES: 16 people were awarded by SCDF for helping to rescue a man pinned under a truck. They include Mr Crispin Orino III (bottom row, third from the right) and Mr Hung Tee Keong (standing, fourth from left) and Mr Andrew Tung (standing, eighth from left). TNP PHOTO: AZIM AZMAN

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) gave awards to 16 people yesterday for playing a part in saving a South Korean man who was pinned under a truck.

The recipients were among those who rushed forward last Wednesday to help to lift the truck so that Mr Kim Seong Mo, 35, could be freed.

Thirteen people, including Mr Hung Tee Keong and Mr Andrew Tung, were given the Public Spiritedness award at the 1st SCDF Division headquarters at Queensway.

The other three were given certificates of appreciation for helping to report the incident to SCDF and providing accurate information.

One of the recipients, Mr Crispin Orino III, a Filipino who has been working in Singapore for four years, was one of the first few people who rushed forward to help lift the truck.

"My colleagues and I were on our way to lunch when we heard loud screaming,"he said.

He said they rushed over and asked the driver of truck if there was any jacklift.

"But the driver was in too much shock to respond," said the 41-year-old engineer at Continental Tires.

"That was when we decided to lift the truck ourselves."

Their initial efforts were unsuccessful, but they were soon joined by more people.

"Helping someone who is in trouble is the usual human response," Mr Orino said when asked why he had helped.

- Azim Azman

ARE YOU ONE OF THE HEROES?

They are ordinary men from different walks of life, but last Wednesday, they shared a common title: hero.

And the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) wants those who have not been recognised yet to come forward.

Posting on its Facebook wall, the agency wants them to call 6471-7417 (MAJ Wee) or 6332-3001 (MAJ Eugene) between 9am to 5pm.

SingaporeLiftheroesbendemeer roadtruckSuperhero