What happened in the deaths of the 2 SAF national servicemen
DEATH OF 3SG GAVIN CHAN
On Sept 15 last year, Third Sergeant Gavin Chan, 21, was participating in Exercise Wallaby at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area, near Queensland.
He was commander of a Bionix Infantry Fighting Vehicle and had ordered the driver to reverse slowly down a hill. The vehicle subsequently overturned and he was thrown out. He suffered serious injuries and later died.
Investigations by the Queensland authorities showed there were no vehicle defects, negligence, foul play or misconduct.
But there were safety lapses.
The exercise was held at night but the night vision device (NVD) of 3SG Chan's vehicle was not working.
Night movement is allowed for armoured vehicles without the use of NVD but only with the driver's hatch open and headlights switched on.
Feeling that the headlights would give away their position to the enemy, 3SG Chan decided to continue without them. He later decided to allow the driver to open his hatch and switch on the vehicle's headlights.
But 3SG Chan also had a large portion of his body exposed outside of the vehicle, although the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) recommendation is for only the head and shoulders to be outside the turret of the vehicle during operations.
What safety measures will be taken in future?
The Committee of Inquiry recommended that the SAF reviews its training safety on the position of the Armoured Fighting Vehicle Commander.
For instance, if the vehicle commander is unable to execute the overturning drill (where he must be able to drop quickly into the vehicle), the vehicle must stop.
The SAF has tightened training safety regulations to limit the exposure of the body of the vehicle commander to waist level when executing certain operational tasks.
The SAF has also implemented drills for day-to-night and night-to-day transitions, which include a serviceability check of the NVD and other night fighting equipment as part of a mission essential checklist.
Checks on wearing seatbelts are being enforced and disciplinary action will be taken against those found in breach of safety.
DEATH OF CFC DAVE LEE
On April 18, Corporal First Class Dave Lee Han Xuan, 19, displayed signs of heat injury after completing an 8km fast march in Bedok Camp.
After SAF personnel applied body cooling measures and treated him, he was taken to Changi General Hospital and warded, where his condition deteriorated.
He died on April 30.
What are the current safety measures to prevent heat injury?
There are mandatory water parades before, during, and after a training activity; and temperature taking before the training activity.
Soldiers with temperatures above 37.5 deg C are not allowed to train.
What future measures will be taken?
The Ministry of Defence will commission an External Medical Panel to review the SAF's policies and measures for the management of heat injuries and recommend improvements.
The SAF has not had any death from heatstroke since 2009, although heat injuries do occur each year.- SUE-ANN TAN