SGT3 Jaais Bin Sol (left) and SGT3 Shafiq Bin Jaais (right) in front of the DART Recue Vehicle (DRV)
Do you believe that being a lifesaver such as a firefighter or an elite Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (DART) rescuer runs in the family?
When one becomes a member of the Lifesaving Force, they become attached to the camaraderie, the thrill and challenges of every mission they are activated for. When their families see how passionate they are in their profession, it piques their interest and thus begins a new “family business” of emergency services.
Meet Sergeant (SGT3) Jaais Bin Sol and SGT3 Mohammed Shafiq Bin Jaais, a father-and-son pair who are both men of few words, but through their actions, we can sense their deep mutual love and respect they have for each other.
SGT3 Jaais has been serving SCDF for over 30 years. He became one of the pioneer members of the elite DART in July 1993 and was deployed for five Operation Lionheart missions from 1993 to 2015. When SGT3 Jaais left the force in 2017, he was a DART Deputy Platoon Commander holding the rank of a Warrant Officer (WO2). Following his re-employment in 2018, SGT3 Jaais assumed the role of a Service Support Section Commander with the elite DART. This appointment gives him the opportunity to pass on his years of knowledge, experience and practice, to the younger generation of DART rescuers.
SGT3 Jaais, then a Warrant Officer (WO2) in 2015, in front of the former DART Rescue Vehicle (DRV)
SGT3 Shafiq joined the force in 2019 and was cross trained as a fire and rescue specialist and an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) at Woodlands Fire Station. Unbeknownst to his father, SGT3 Shafiq also aspired to be an elite DART rescuer. SGT3 Shafiq silently trained hard and prepared for months before attending the eight-week challenging DART specialist course, which he successfully completed on 22nd September 2022.
Rescue 995 caught up with the father-and-son pair for a short conversation to find out more about their intertwined stories in SCDF.
Rescue 995: SGT3 Jaais, can you share with us your experiences as a member of the elite DART and what motivated you to join and be part of the Lifesaving Force?
SGT3 Jaais: My father and elder brother served as firefighters in the past and I was deeply inspired by them to join the Singapore Fire Service (SFS) in 1988. Personally, I wanted to contribute to the nation and positively impact the lives of others. Therefore, I was happy and proud to be part of the pioneer batch of the elite DART, formally known as the Rescue Squad, where I was deployed for numerous search and rescue incidents in Singapore and abroad.
My first Operation Lionheart mission was very memorable as it took place shortly after my DART conversion course. Together with my fellow DART rescuers, we were deployed to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia after the collapse of the Highland Towers Condominium in 1993, to assist in search and rescue operations. Other Operation Lionheart missions that I was involved in include the deployment to Nias Island, Indonesia in 2005, Yogyakarta, Indonesia in 2006, Christchurch, New Zealand in 2011 and Kathmandu, Nepal in 2015. Locally, I was involved in the Nicoll Highway rescue incident in 2004. As DART rescuers, we are required to always think on our feet and quickly adapt to the dynamic operating environment when responding to an incident. We had to improvise our strategy and approach during our rescue operations including overseas disaster relief operations, and make do with the resources available to achieve our mission objectives.
SGT3 Jaais (first from the left in squatting position), after the Highland Towers rescue mission in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, December 1993.
Rescue 995: SGT3 Shafiq, your dad has decades of operational experience as a DART officer under his belt, was that what inspired you to join the elite DART?
SGT3 Shafiq: Yes! My father was my source of inspiration to join the elite DART. Since young, I have aspired to be like my father who was like a hero to me, especially when I learnt about the numerous rescue incidents that he responded to and the challenges that he had to overcome during operations to save lives and property. The thought that one day I could also help impact peoples’ lives positively like my father spurred me to take up the challenge to join the elite DART, after serving three years in the Lifesaving Force as a Fire and Rescue Specialist.
Rescue 995: Did your father know about your decision to join the elite DART?
SGT3 Shafiq: No, I didn’t tell my father about my decision because I wanted this to be a surprise for him.
Rescue 995: What were some of the challenging and heart-warming moments during the DART training?
SGT3 Shafiq: To be honest, the training during the eight-week DART Specialist Course was very demanding, both physically and mentally. I was pushed to my limits on many occasions, but I kept myself motivated and told myself that I can overcome any challenges as long as I put my heart and mind to it. Having strong comrades going through the course together with me also helped to spur me on as we kept encouraging each other throughout the course. The camaraderie, friendship and memories forged will always be something that I treasure dearly.
SGT3 Shafiq (front left) and his course mates carrying “Big John” on their way to CDA for their passing out ceremony
Another significant memory etched in my mind was right before our official passing out ceremony, we had to undergo an exercise called CASEVAC, which also stands for Casualty Evacuation. For this exercise, we were required to carry a casualty mannequin named “Big John” weighing about 90 kilogrammes and transport him for about five kilometres from the Home Team Academy (HTA) to Civil Defence Academy (CDA) on foot.
When we finally arrived at CDA, a large box placed at the ceremony table was waiting to be opened by us. When our family members arrived at the passing out ceremony, my comrades and I opened the box and when we saw what was inside, all of us could not hold back the tears in our eyes.
Inside the box contained our hard-earned DART tag and other DART-related items which we will be bringing with us to our new unit. It was a triumphant moment for me, as well as an emotional one because I knew I have made my father proud, and at the same time I also knew that I would soon miss the bonds my course mates and I shared during the course.
Rescue 995: What emotions went through you the moment you saw your son, Shafiq at the DART passing out ceremony?
SGT3 Jaais: I could not be prouder of Shafiq for his achievement because I know he has worked very hard for it. I have raised him to be a disciplined and respectful person since young so I hope he will continue to learn, progress, and stay humble. I am confident that he will be able to do well in his career.
Rescue 995: What is something you would like to say to your father?
SGT3 Shafiq: I love and respect my dad a lot and I am grateful for all his sacrifices and hard work throughout the years to support the family. I deeply appreciate him for all that he has done for me!
SGT3 Shafiq (left) with his father SGT3 Jaais (right) at the 27th DART Specialist Course Passing Out Ceremony