Total Defence: Using app to save lives
Total Defence Day falls on Wednesday to mark the fall of S'pore in 1942. LEANNE CHUA speaks to people who embody Civil and Social Defence
He is only 21, but Mr Eugene Seah has already helped several strangers in the midst of cardiac arrests by performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on them within the last two years.
Mr Seah, who is now doing national service, became passionate about saving lives after joining the St John Ambulance Brigade at Gan Eng Seng School.
He said: "As a boy, I was fascinated with the inside of an ambulance and the sirens."
After graduating, Mr Seah decided to get his CPR+AED (automated external defibrillator) Instructor Certification from the Singapore Heart Foundation.
He downloaded the myResponder app by the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), which alerts responders to cardiac arrest cases within a 400m radius.
SCDF said more than 36,000 people have downloaded the app since its launch in 2015, while over 12,700 have registered as responders.
Mr Seah had just reached home when he received his first notification from the app on May 8, 2015, about a week after he downloaded it.
"I cycled over in a hurry, unsure of what to expect," he said.
He saw a family member was already compressing the chest of the victim.
"But I noticed she was doing it wrongly, so I took over until the SCDF arrived a few minutes later," he added.
During a cardiac arrest, chances of survival drop by 10 per cent for every minute CPR is delayed.
He said the family members were crying while he performed CPR and asked if everything would be all right.
Said Mr Seah: "I could only say, 'I'll try my best.'"
He does not know whether the victim survived.
He continued responding to cases over the next two years and has performed the Heimlich manoeuvre to expel a fishball from a victim. In one case, the victim was declared dead upon arrival.
SCDF said more than 4,200 alerts were responded to by Community First Responders. There were 1,300 cardiac arrest cases alerted through the app last year.
Colonel Joseph Tan Boon Kiat, director of Nexus, the Central National Education Office which organises Total Defence, said: "It is important for Singaporeans to equip themselves with emergency preparedness skills, so that we can respond more effectively in times of crisis."
Running towards a more inclusive Singapore
In 2008, Mr John See Toh, 56, was working on a project for his master's degree in special education at the National Institute of Education (NIE) when he realised a gap in society for the intellectually disabled.
"The visually handicapped have many avenues for integration as they can advocate for themselves but not the intellectually disabled - they're left out and forgotten," the Metta School teacher said.
With his NIE classmate and wife, Ms Chan Jan Siang, 39, a Chinese teacher at Loyang Primary School, he set up Runninghour, a running club to promote exercise and social integration among the intellectually disabled in 2009.
It began with 10 members and has since expanded to include visually and physically disabled runners.
The club was registered as a co-op in May 2014 with the help of the Singapore National Co-operative Federation's Central Co-operative Fund.
The club now has more than 400 membersfrom 10 to 80 years oldand includes 254 sighted guides, 92 intellectually disabled, 52 visually handicapped and three physically disabled runners.
The group runs together at the Sports Hub every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday for more than an hour.
Setting up Runninghour was not easy. Initially, volunteers who had signed up did not show up. There were also uncooperative runners and rising expenses.
Today, Mr See Toh is forming a youth wing for the club with volunteer runners from the privately-run SIM University.
His wife said: "We've run enough marathons and won enough medals for ourselves. It is time to give back to the running community."
Colonel Joseph Tan Boon Kiat, director of Nexus, said their efforts make Singapore a more caring and inclusive society.
He added: "Total Defence isn't just about crises and emergencies, it is also about the things people do that bring the community close."
Mass run, Runninghour 2017, is back for its third edition on May 13 and is expecting 1,500 participants including 500 special-needs runners. Those with special needs can sign up for free.