Meet SSG Teo Wee Siong Vincent, a member of SCDF’s elite Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (DART) who has been with the Force for over 12 years. He has been a DART Specialist since September 2018, an appointment in which he worked very hard to achieve.
Rescue 995 engaged SSG Vincent in an exclusive interview as he shares his personal story, his aspiration to become a DART Specialist and his experiences at the frontline.
Rescue 995: What were your roles before being posted to DART?
SSG Vincent: I was a Section Commander and also a Fire Biker at Paya Lebar Fire Station from 2009 to 2016. In 2014, I was trained as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) as there was a new career scheme whereby all Fire Bikers, like me, were required to be equipped with EMT skills to enable us to respond to critical emergency medical incidents. From 2016 to 2018, I was posted to Tampines Fire Station.
Rescue 995: Why do you want to be a DART Specialist?
SSG Vincent: At the age of 16, I lost my mother. This tragic episode in my life left me with a sense of guilt that perhaps, I could have done something to save her life. I was so young at that time but this determination spurred me on to look for a meaningful career, which was why I joined the Life Saving Force. When I found out about the elite DART in SCDF, I gave my best to work towards becoming a DART Specialist so that I can make my late mother proud.
Rescue 995: Do you have any memorable incident that you have attended to?
SSG Vincent: I had responded to a major incident involving the collapse of the Pan Island Expressway viaduct in July 2017. It was in the evening when I received the call of distress. A few survivors led the SCDF rescuers to a huge block of debris and told us that there were two casualties trapped underneath the piles of rubbles. One of the casualties was groaning in pain and when we finally located him, we discovered that a rebar had pierced through his torso. A perilous situation! As such, we had to carefully extricate him from the debris along with the rebar before conveying him to the hospital. This was my first and unforgettable rescue operation involving a collapsed structure.
There was another incident more recently in November 2020 when a child had his fingers trapped in one of the swimming pool’s drainage outlets in a condominium. When my crew and I arrived, the father was holding on to his child and they were helpless. As it involved a child and the fact that a child’s fingers are delicate, we had to be extra careful throughout the rescue operation, including calming the child and paying attention to his well-being. The first thing we did was to decrease the water level of the swimming pool by draining some water with the help of the fire station crew and the condominium’s management staff. Instead of solely using our rescue equipment, we applied some lubricant on the child’s fingers to further facilitate the rescue operation, so as to safely slide the fingers out from the drainage outlets. Slowly but surely we made progress. When the child was finally rescued, the crowd cheered us on. That was such a relief for all of us!
Rescue 995: Can you share with us on one of the latest developments/equipment in DART?
SSG Vincent: One of the latest technological gadgets in DART is the Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), which is meant for underwater search operation. The ROV is equipped with SONAR (Sound Navigation and Ranging) technology that can be used to scan for the presence of casualty underwater and thereby facilitating the DART divers to locate and retrieve the casualty. With the use of the ROV, underwater search operations can be safely and more efficiently conducted.
The ROV is capable of detecting a casualty underwater.
Rescue 995: What kept you going in this career despite the challenges?
SSG Vincent: I like the work-life benefits that this career offers. Frankly, I loathe working solely for money but without finding the work meaningful and having no quality time to spend with the family. Above all, this career is so fulfilling and meaningful to me as by saving someone’s life, his or her loved ones and many more lives are positively impacted as well.