SCDF’s Emergency Behavioural Sciences and CARE Unit (EBSC) was established in 2013, as the pillar of psychological support for SCDF officers.
Today, we are pleased to turn back the pages in nostalgia, revisiting the history of psychological services in SCDF, and the highlights from EBSC’s recent 10th anniversary.
FLASHBACK: THE BEGINNING OF PSYCHOLOGICAL SERVICES IN SCDF
EBSC’s roots can be traced back to 1995, when the pioneer officers in the Emergency Behaviour Management (EBM) Section introduced resilience training, counselling, and crisis support services to SCDF personnel. This helped promote awareness of traumatic incident stress among frontliners, encouraging them to seek help and take the first steps towards recovery following the encounter with such incidents.
A brief history of EBSC over the years. INFOGRAPHIC: SCDF
The CARE Management Team in 2008. PHOTO: SCDF
Today, EBSC’s application of psychology has expanded far beyond the scope of its early years. The unit’s psychologists, uniformed officers, and analysts are now equipped with a wide range of expertise to support SCDF’s officers and operations. and officers.
THROWBACK: SIGNIFICANT MILESTONES FOR EBSC
Over the past 10 years, EBSC had responded to numerous incidents. By working closely with ground commanders and relevant departments, EBSC fostered the psychological well-being of SCDF personnel and helped them to emerge stronger from challenging incidents. Let’s look at some of these milestones!
2013 | Little India Riot
On 8 December 2013, a fatal accident involving a bus and a migrant worker triggered the Little India riot. As the rioters’ anger grew, they began to attack the bus and emergency vehicles at scene. It was a stressful experience for many of SCDF’s responders, as they had never faced such hostility before.
Scenes from the Little India Riot in 2013. PHOTO: SCDF
EBSC was immediately activated to provide emotional support for the affected responders. Working closely with unit supervisors and Paracounsellors, EBSC conducted numerous psychological debriefing sessions to understand the emotions and thoughts of the affected responders. With these sessions, the responders were able to process their emotions and take the first steps towards recovery, resuming their operational duties with peace of mind.
The EBSC shortly after its formal establishment in 2013. PHOTO: SCDF
2020 | COVID-19 Pandemic
During the COVID-19 pandemic, SCDF was heavily involved in the national pandemic response, supporting with swab tests and the management of Government Quarantine Facilities. Despite the uncertainty and increased personal risk, officers from SCDF’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) remained steadfast in responding to medical emergencies. However, this was a period of uncertainty and stress for many officers as they coped with the increased workload and well-being of their families.
SCDF EMS officers during the Covid-19 pandemic. PHOTO: SCDF
Recognising these issues, EBSC conducted force-wide morale sensing for SCDF officers to understand their challenges. Dedicated resources and regular internal communications were disseminated to impart self-care and personal resilience tips to all SCDF staff. Operationally Ready National Servicemen CARE Officers rose to the occasion, assisting EBSC in engaging affected or quarantined personnel, through well-being and reintegration check-in calls. These initiatives helped to maintain high morale among SCDF officers throughout the pandemic.
February 2023 | Operation Lionheart Deployment to Türkiye
On 6 February 2023, a devastating earthquake struck southern Türkiye. In the wake of the destruction, SCDF’s Operation Lionheart contingent was swiftly deployed to assist in the disaster rescue efforts. For the first time, EBSC officers were deployed as part of the Operation Lionheart contingent, providing in-situ psychological support for the entire contingent, uplifting their morale and psychological wellness throughout the mission.
HTS Khoo Swee Giang (right) and CPT Khoo Chong Wee (left) during the Ops Lionheart deployment in Türkiye. PHOTO: SCDF
Apart from mentally preparing the contingent for the deployment, HTS Khoo Swee Giang and CPT Khoo Chong Wee had regular engagements and morale sensing with individual officers. This allowed them to advise the Contingent Commander on the contingent’s morale and well-being.
Towards the end of the search and rescue operations, the EBSC officers briefed the contingent members on re-integration and healthy coping. EBSC also followed up with post deployment check-ins and psychological assessments to monitor the well-being of the contingent members, even after their return to Singapore.
PLAYBACK: COMMEMORATING EBSC’S 10TH ANNIVERSARY
EBSC’s 10th anniversary, themed “EBSC is 10!” was commemorated on 24 October 2023, coinciding with the World Mental Health Day. The event celebrated EBSC’s achievements and recognised valued partners in SCDF, the Home Team, government agencies, and the community for their contributions in mental health outreach and psychological support.
EBSC in 2023. PHOTO: SCDF
During the anniversary celebration, EBSC launched the SCDF Mental Health Literacy Programme - “Ready for Mental Health”. The programme promotes supportive work environments in SCDF, encouraging officers to confidently engage their colleagues and discuss well-being concerns.
EBSC has indeed come a long way from its humble beginnings as the EBM Section. Today, it is a multi-faceted unit offering deep expertise in psychological services, and always ready to offer steadfast support to SCDF officers in their time of need.
Rescue995 would like to honour the dedication of EBSC, its pioneer officers, Paracounsellors, NSF Peer Supporters, and partners. Thank you for your contributions to EBSC over the years! Here’s to many more years of strength, support, and resilience!
Happy 10th anniversary, EBSC!