SCDF paramedic's journey of delivering baby to fighting Covid-19
This SCDF officer often has to play the role of both first responder and counsellor
Working on the front line of the Covid-19 pandemic, First Warrant Officer (WO1) Jason Kwek Qi Wei often has to play the role of both first responder and counsellor.
From suspected patients anxious about getting infected, to migrant workers fearing for their jobs, the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) paramedic not only administers treatment but also takes care of their psychological needs.
In recognition of his work during his eight years with SCDF, WO1 Kwek, 31, was awarded the Minister for Home Affairs National Day Award (Individual) this year.
WO1 Kwek recalled a case of a migrant worker in a dormitory at a construction site who had tested positive for Covid-19.
The worker, who had been isolated for almost a week, looked depressed and was on the verge of tears. To reassure him, WO1 Kwek spoke to him en route to hospital.
Despite the language barrier, they shared a heartfelt chat.
Recounting this to The New Paper, WO1 Kwek said: "I felt for him. He told me he was feeling lonely and said he missed his family.
"Later, he thanked me for the conversation. He felt like he wasn't just a patient, that we were friends talking."
Based at Ang Mo Kio Fire Station, WO1 Kwek has attended to 10 to 15 positive Covid-19 cases since the virus hit Singapore in late January.
Having to wear personal protective equipment (PPE), including an N95 mask, goggles and a full gown, meant communication was an issue, made worse by language barrier.
It also posed other challenges.
The bespectacled WO1 Kwek said his glasses and goggles would mist up from the heat, and breathing was a challenge.
"When we go for road traffic accidents, we have to operate under the hot sun, sweating profusely, and there is more difficulty manoeuvring about."
SCDF ambulance crew were required to don full PPE for all calls after the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition level was raised to orange on Feb 7. Since June 15, it is needed only for Covid-19-related cases.
WO1 Kwek said encountering new people and situations makes the job fulfilling.
He fondly recalls helping to deliver a baby girl at a void deck, and the time he helped save a man who was having fits from a heart attack after he slipped into cardiac arrest.They are now Facebook friends.
WO1 Kwek was in the four-member team that won the Ferno Australia Paramedic Simulation Challenge in 2018 and is an author of a study on the health impacts of personal mobility device and power- assisted bicycle fires.
This has helped SCDF officers know what injuries to look out for during such fires.
The paramedic has no plans of slowing down, adding: "As long as they need me on the front line, I will still do it."