From funeral director to SCDF fire and rescue officer
From sending off the dead on their final journey to saving lives, former funeral director Quek Qian Ying Jolene made this improbable career switch last May.
After joining the Singapore Civil Defence Force's (SCDF) Rota Commander Course (RCC), her new career as a fire and rescue officer began yesterday upon passing out from the course with 41 other cadets at a closed-door ceremony at the Civil Defence Academy in Jalan Bahar.
Minister of State for Home Affairs and National DevelopmentMuhammad Faishal Ibrahim said to the officers in a recorded speech: "Carry out your duties with the utmost professionalism and uphold the public's trust in SCDF."
The 25-year-old, who is now a lieutenant and was awarded best in knowledge for the 22nd RCC, will be attached to a fire station for about two years.
She told The New Paper: "I feel happy to be passing out, I am excited for what lies ahead at the fire station. I hope I can save lives."
Her two-year stint as a funeral director taught her the value of life.
Lt Quek said: "I liked the feeling of being there for people in an urgent and immediate time of need... and being able to do something that I can see will make a difference."
Her duties at the funeral company included overseeing the wake and funeral arrangements, and cremation or burial.
The turning point came with a calling to save lives.
Lt Quek said: "In the funeral industry, it is a belated kind of help because the person is already gone and all you are doing is comforting the family.
"What drew me to SCDF was that you can make a difference to save lives. If you go into a burning building, you can make a difference whether a person lives or dies. It all depends on the decisions you make."
But the seven-month course was tough and she thought she would not succeed. She recalled feeling claustrophobic and anxious during an enclosed-space rescue exercise but she overcame those fears.
She said: "Being a funeral director and being in SCDF have taught me the value of human life. Life is so important and everyone deserves to be saved."