You would have heard about SCDF’s emergency responders at the frontlines responding to emergencies to protect and save lives and property. But do you know there is a team that is working tirelessly behind the scenes managing resources and providing logistics support for smooth and effective runs of courses at the Civil Defence Academy (CDA)?
These unsung heroes are none other than the team of dedicated staff at the Corporate Services Hub (West). We recently met up with Staff Sergeant (SSG) Azmi Bin Abdul Samad, an Operations Logistics Specialist (OLS) and Sergeant 1 (SGT1) (NSF) Muhammad Saufi Bin Hussain, a Senior Info-communications Assistant from Corporate Services Hub West [CSH(W)]. Both SSG Azmi and SGT1 (NSF) Saufi play a pivotal role in providing critical support functions that contributes to the mission success of SCDF.
SSG Azmi Bin Abdul Samad dedicated his time and energy in providing critical support functions to the Civil Defence Academy
SSG Azmi joined SCDF in 1991 when his brother-in-law encouraged him to sign on as a firefighter after spotting a job opening in a newspaper. Prior to his appointment as an OLS in CSH(W) in April 2020, SSG Azmi spent the most part of his career as a frontline Emergency Response Specialist (ERS) at Central Fire Station and Clementi Fire Station.
A newspaper article praising of ever-ready SSG Azmi for his swift response to help deliver a baby on the street
Throughout his career, SSG Azmi is known to his colleagues as a resourceful and innovative problem solver who is extremely passionate about his work. He fully embodies the spirit of a lifesaver and goes beyond the extra mile to render assistance to others. An incident which SSG Azmi’s still vividly remembers till today was when he helped a stranger deliver her baby on the street more than 20 years ago. He was off duty when he saw the pregnant lady in need of help and did not hesitate to assist her. He was thankful that he was able to lend a helping hand and that both the mother and son were safe. SSG Azmi was also a recipient of the SCDF Pride and Care Award in 2021 for rendering immediate aid to a road traffic accident victim while waiting for help to arrive. His acts of public spiritedness and deeds are commendable and he serves as an exemplary role model for many others to emulate. In his appointment as an OLS in CSH(W), even though SSG Azmi is no longer serving at the frontline, he continues to uphold his noble passion to serve and care for all personnel, including NSFs under his charge. He takes great pride in his work and strongly believes that every officer, regardless of appointment, can make a key difference to the success of an organisation.
SGT1 (NSF) Saufi was enlisted in October 2020. Even without prior knowledge or expertise, he was entrusted with a key role to provide audio-visual technical support in the Civil Defence Academy. Through sheer hard work and determination, he became au-fait with the various info-comms equipment and capabilities in a very short time, and was on many occasions consulted by his peers on technical issues they were facing when they had to assemble the equipment for events.
Rescue 995 engaged SSG Azmi and SGT1 (NSF) Saufi in an exclusive interview as they shared with us their experiences working at CSH(W).
SSG Azmi Bin Abdul Samad
Rescue 995: What are your roles and responsibilities as an Operations Logistics Specialist?
SSG Azmi: I am responsible for managing a variety of events and setups that are held primarily at CDA, National Service Training Centre (NSTC) and the Home Team Tactical Centre (HTTC). This also includes the setting up of the SCDF Tactical Headquarters (TACT HQ), Direct Support Areas, and providing logistical support for tactical exercises, ministerial visits, and international training courses. During the first year of the COVID pandemic, I was also involved in the Temporary Foreign Workers Dormitory (TFWD) Operations setup, as well as the preparation and setup for our contingency standby forces for National Day Parade 2021. Together with my team, we had the opportunity to be exposed to different areas of work which I was not privy to when I was a frontliner. We had to engage a variety of vendors ranging from caterers to maintenance specialists ensuring that our events were well supported and that the readiness of our infrastructure, vehicles and equipment were maintained in tip-top condition.
For example, during ministerial visits, we had to ensure that the interior setup of our hosting premises is well maintained, with much emphasis on the safety of the visitors. For international training courses held at CDA, we had to make sure that the suites are operational, sanitised and upkept to house the overseas trainees, and that the meals are catered according to their specified dietary needs.
Direct Support Area (DSA) Setup
Deployment of tentage for the Direct Support Area (DSA) setup
Maintenance of CDA Suites
A suite makeover in progress at CDA Dorm to house international trainees
A completed setup of the Visitor Lounge to host an international course closing with trainees from Bhutan
Rescue 995: You and your team were involved in last year’s NDP. Can you share with us how logistical support was provided during both events?
SSG Azmi: We provided support in areas such as infrastructure and physical setups and ensuring that meals were promptly served to all our officers participating in the NDP. We also maintained the hygiene and conducted sanitisation of all facilities for the entire duration of standby, which is especially important during the pandemic.
Rescue 995: Which part of your work gives you the most satisfaction, and why?
SSG Azmi: Being able to be part of the Temporary Foreign Workers Dormitory (TFWD) Operations, safeguarding the wellbeing of foreign workers and further reducing local transmission of the virus for the initial part of the lockdown period within the CDA Dorm gave me the most satisfaction. Notwithstanding this, it was also one of the most challenging tasks we had to undertake. This is a noble aspect of the job which I feel proud to be involved in as the nation dealt with the COVID crisis.
Rescue 995: Tell us more about the tasks you and your team had to undertake and the challenges you faced during the TFWD operations.
SSG Azmi: The operation was assigned to our team back in April 2020 to house foreign workers who were part of the COVID-19 clusters during the height of the pandemic, which was also when the nationwide “Circuit Breaker” was implemented in Singapore. Logistics support rested completely on our shoulders as we worked together to meet the needs of these foreign workers housed in the TFWD in CDA. Residential lodging at the CDA dorm was ceased and our trainees had to attend Home Based Learning, to facilitate this TFWD dorm operations.
Every day, including the weekends, we had to ensure that their living environment was safe, secure, properly sanitised, and with Safe Management Measures strictly enforced. Besides catering and distributing food, we had to account for other logistical needs such as toiletries, bed linens, and sufficiency of common electrical items such as fans, washers and dryers. Language barrier was also a challenge and we had to also look after our physical health and protect ourselves from the COVID-19 virus.
SSG Azmi overseeing the dismantling and disposal of old mattresses to upkeep the hygiene in the academy following the Dorm Ops
Rescue 995: What kept you going in your vocation despite the immense workload?
SSG Azmi: I am fortunate and blessed to have a team of supportive colleagues and supervisors. Their support and understanding helped me to brave through challenges at work, and for that I am very grateful.
SGT1 (NSF) Muhammad Saufi Bin Hussain
Rescue 995: What does your role and responsibility as a Senior Info-communications Assistant entails?
SGT1 (NSF) Saufi: My role is to ensure all audio-visual devices and equipment, including the internet server is working well in CDA especially during events such as the trainees’ Passing Out Parade (POP) and large-scale events such as the National Day Parade. I am also proud to be the go-to guy in CDA to troubleshoot devices in our appliances such as the Forward Command Vehicle (FCV), where every equipment functionality is critical to attain mission success. In addition, I also assist my info-comms officers in scheduling events, planning and deployment of info-comms equipment and resources at the respective event venues.
During the Circuit Breaker period in 2020, many events and important meetings were held virtually. My team and I provided prompt technical support to ensure that these events ran smoothly and that any connectivity issues that arose were rectified swiftly.
SGT1 (NSF) Saufi giving a briefing to a new NSF on the FCV
Rescue 995: Describe your first impression when you were posted to this vocation?
SGT1 (NSF) Saufi: Initially, I thought my role was to provide IT-related assistance via phone calls just like what a typical call centre does. However, when I was posted to this vocation, I realised how different my role was from what I had imagined, and the importance of it in making a difference to ensure that work in SCDF gets done smoothly and efficiently.
Rescue 995: How do you provide support during events held at CDA? Share with us an example.
SGT1 (NSF) Saufi: For events such as the Rota Commander Course Passing Out Parade, it requires a vast amount of logistics planning and preparation. As it is a once-in-a-lifetime event for the graduating cadets, it is crucial for me to ensure that every audio-visual equipment is working well. Typically, the parade is held in the daytime. Therefore, the position of the large-screen television is also important to avoid the glare of the sun so that the cadets can be viewed up-close by their loved ones. These are just some examples of the finer details to consider when planning for such events.
Rescue 995: What are the more challenging aspects about your role and how did you overcome them?
SGT1 (NSF) Saufi: For us in general, the bigger the event, the more challenging it will be as more expectation is placed on us to ensure that the sound system, lightings and visual devices such as the large-screen televisions are functioning well. Ideally, a successful event is one that does not encounter any technical glitch or downtime and we always use that standard as a benchmark in our work. Even with the best efforts, glitches in the system may still happen during events hence it is critical for us to know how to troubleshoot and respond promptly to such injects.
SGT1 (NSF) Saufi conducting quality audit on a laptop’s projection before a meeting
Another challenge is when there is a sudden change to the event venue within short notice. As our team is rather lean, we have to adjust and adapt quickly for deployment at the new location. So, any last-minute change will affect the entire list of items that we need to prepare and deploy at the new location.
Rescue 995: Which part of your vocation do you find most fulfilling?
SGT1 (NSF) Saufi: The most fulfilling moment is the satisfaction that we get at the end of every event. Whenever an event runs smoothly, our team usually gets a pat-on-the-back for a job well done. It feels great when we are appreciated for what we do and knowing that we played a crucial role in the success of the event. That motivates us to do better and to contribute more.
Rescue 995: How has NS supported you in your personal growth and prepare you for your future career?
SGT1 (NSF) Saufi: Overall, NS has taught me the value of time and how it can work in our favour when we manage it well, and to do so requires a great amount of self-discipline and good time management skills.