Mr Patrick Cheong, Chairman, Bedok Community Emergency and Engagement Community receiving the Community First Responder Award and the Community Lifesavers’ Award fromCOL Chew Keng Tok, Commander 2nd SCDF Division (right).
You would have read about Mr Patrick Cheong in the news recently. He had responded to two incidents and was awarded the SCDF’s Community First Responder Award (CFRA) and the Community Lifesavers’ Award (CLA). Mr Cheong is the Chairman of Bedok Community Emergency and Engagement Committee (C2E) and has played a pivotal role in assisting Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) and Singapore Police Force (SPF) in organising SGSecure related programmes for the residents in Bedok constituency.
Rescue 995 engaged Mr Cheong for an exclusive interview as he shared his experiences as a Community First Responder (CFR) and Grassroot volunteer in Bedok Constituency.
Rescue 995: You have responded to two incidents. Can you briefly share your encounters and reflections after responding to these incidents?
Mr Cheong: For one of the incidents, I received an alert via the SCDF’s MyResponder App for a distress call at a basketball court at Bedok North. As I was nearby, it took me merely a minute-and-a-half to reach the scene. The casualty was lying motionless after having a cardiac arrest during a basketball game. I immediately performed Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) on him. Concurrently, I tasked one of the bystanders to retrieve an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) from a nearby lift lobby. Three cycles of CPR and two shocks of AED were given before the SCDF ambulance arrived. I had also requested for the same bystander to redirect the ambulance crew to the basketball court as the location was not very visible from the main road. After the ambulance crew took over, the casualty regained consciousness. I was so relieved that the casualty survived and was so thankful for support given by the bystander.
A fortnight before this cardiac arrest incident, I was at the scene of a road traffic accident. A man in his 60s’ was hit by a vehicle and was flung quite a distance away. He was conscious but immobile and in pain when I approached him. He was critically injured and I had to race against time to stop the bleeding while getting a passer-by to control the traffic. Unfortunately, I was told that after a few hours upon arrival at the hospital, the casualty succumbed to his injuries. Such things do happen at times but as community first responders, we must move on, knowing that we have given our very best in rendering assistance to those in need.
Rescue 995: The road traffic accident must have been very tensed, given the crowd of bystanders and the critically injured person in need of immediate help.
Mr Cheong: Yes, such a situation can be tensed and overwhelming but with experience and good teamwork from fellow community first responders, you will manage it well. I remember when I first became a C2E member and a volunteer leader, I had the opportunity to volunteer with the ambulance crew for a couple of hours a day. My first experience with the ambulance crew was rather traumatic but over time, I became more knowledgeable and confident to handle such emergencies.
Rescue 995: Where did you learn your lifesaving skills?
Mr Cheong: I acquired critical life-saving skills through my grassroots community work in the last 15 years. Prior the pandemic, we have CPR training for residents in the last weekend of each month at Bedok Community Centre. Today, CPR is something of a second nature to me as I have been practicing it so frequently for so many years. Practice makes perfect.
Mr Patrick Cheong at a house-visit to find out the wellness of the Caregiver and Care Recipients who are under Bedok C2E’s care.
Rescue 995: Your kind deeds to render assistance in emergencies are indeed exemplary. What advice would you give to members of public as well as Grassroot Leaders about such commitment to step forward to help those in need during an emergency?
Mr Cheong: If you know how to perform CPR, I encourage you to download the SCDF’s MyResponder App. In fact, not only to download but to respond to the activation alert via the app, to the best that you could. That is even better! You are not just saving lives. You are ensuring that the life you have saved is going to be with their loved ones for a longer period of time.
For those who do not know life-saving skills, I strongly encourage you to sign up for a free life-saving course at any community centre near you or you could also attend the SCDF’s Community Emergency Preparedness Programme at no cost. Remember to bring your loved ones along as well!
Rescue 995: What is your advice for those who may be concerned about rendering help because of the fear of feeling overwhelmed when the tension is high, and a lot of by-standers are around?
Mr Cheong: When you are in such a tensed situation, especially when there is a lot of by-standers, do not be afraid for most of the time, you are not alone. Get the bystanders to be involved by requesting for their help and delegating duties to them. For example, you could assign a few bystanders to either call for an ambulance, manage the crowd or traffic, or retrieve the AED. Believe me, once nudged, they would readily step forward to assist. So you see, as long as you bring the situation under control, you will not feel overwhelmed.
Rescue 995: Going forward, how do you plan to promote CFR and CPR for Bedok Constituency?
Mr Cheong: I believe we are on the right track on our part to promote CFR in the community. Upon the completion of each training session in our life-saving courses, I will give a short briefing to the participants to personally encourage them to download the MyResponder App and make a positive difference in the lives of others.
During our CPR training, for those who are concerned with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, we have been guiding them to just do chest compression without mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Chest compression, by itself, can save lives and it has been proven so. I can attest to it for I had once responded to a cardiac arrest case performing CPR using only chest compression and I managed to successfully revive the casualty.
A class photo of the CPR-AED Awareness programme that is conducted once every month. Note: Picture was taken prior to COVID-19.
Mr Patrick Cheong giving a briefing at the CPR-AED class for volunteers and residents prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.Note: Picture was taken prior to COVID-19.