SAF expanding use of arm immersion cooling system

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From this month, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) is expanding the use of an arm immersion cooling system and purpose-built cooling pads across the armed forces.

This comes after recommendations from an external panel looking into the SAF's heat injury practices, following the death of Corporal First Class (CFC) Dave Lee Han Xuan in April from heat injury.

Although the report found the SAF's heat injury measures generally sound and aligned with prevalent industry and foreign military practices, there was room for improvement.

For instance, it suggested the full-scale implementation of a cooling regime, the Arm Immersion Cooling System.

This is a preventive measure whereby soldiers dip their arms into iced water for between 15 and 30 seconds to help cool body core temperature. This is done during rest periods during training, and after training.

Since 2015, it has been used in some units at the Basic Military Training Centre, Officer Cadet School, and Specialist Cadet School.

This practice will be implemented across the SAF in phases from this month for fast marches and route marches that are 12km or longer.

Purpose-built cooling pads will also replace the current use of six ice packs, or plastic bags filled with ice, to cool a suspected heat injury casualty.

Major (Dr) Teo Rui Ming, 32, who is Head of Doctrine at HQ Army Medical Services, said the cooling pads can help decrease the temperature of casualties up to four times faster than ice.

While the cooling pads have been used during overseas training since 2015, they will be rolled out across the SAF in phases from this month.


Among other recommendations by the panel were the upgrading of the SAF's Body Cooling Units and fine-tuning work-rest cycles based on practices of foreign militaries.

With immediate effect, all commanders and medics across the SAF will evacuate every trainee that cannot respond to simple questions on time, place and identity.

To help commanders and soldiers better recognise signs and symptoms of heat injuries, lesson plans on safety will be improved and mandatory questions on heat injury prevention and management will be included in the annual training safety regulation (TSR) test.

More opportunities for make-up training will also be provided, so that soldiers will not push themselves beyond safety limits. - LIM MIN ZHANG