Empowered to Save Lives

January 14, 2022

Community First Responders (CFRs) have always played a pivotal role in helping others during emergencies, including saving lives. The launch of smart technology solutions like the SCDF’s myResponder mobile application (app) in 2019 had significantly enhanced community response to emergencies. Today, there are more than 100,000 registered CFRs on the app. These responders include members of the public as well as our in-house personnel such as the SCDF’s Operational Ready National Service (ORNS) men and volunteers from the Civil Defence Auxiliary Unit (CDAU).


Sergeant (V) William Lim Wei Loon served his full-time National Service (NSF) with the SCDF before joining the CDAU as a volunteer firefighter in 2011. Upon his Operational Ready Date (ORD) in June 2008, SGT (V) William was posted to 1st SCDF Division as an Operationally Ready National Service (ORNS) Fire and Rescue Specialist. He is currently a full-time retail supervisor at NTUC FairPrice.


SGT (V) William LimSGT (V) William is an active volunteer at CDAU and a community first responder via the myResponder app.


“I would have the myResponder app turned on, even at work, so that I can respond to any emergency happening near the premises. Since my NSF days, I have been trained to be very alert to my surrounding environment, and my first instinct is to always check for any emergency nearby,” said SGT (V) William, who is an active CFR on the myResponder app.


It was through the myResponder app that SGT (V) William was alerted to a rubbish bin fire at a void deck in Bukit Batok at about 3am.


“Whenever I respond to a fire incident, I have to be creative enough to find an effective solution to a problem in the fastest way possible,” said SGT (V) William. “When I arrived at the location of the rubbish bin fire, there was no nearby fire hose or extinguisher. After surveying the area, I spotted a funeral wake a block away and I rushed over to request for assistance to put out the fire. The people there were very kind and they helped me to extinguish the fire using pails of water from the temporary toilets located outside the funeral hall."


Besides responding to the myResponder app’s alerts, SGT (V) William also responded to a rubbish bin fire near his home two years ago. He was alerted to the fire upon hearing an explosion in his neighbourhood. He rushed to the location but by then, the flames from the rubbish bin had spread to a mini-van that was parked nearby.


“As I did not want to endanger any passers-by, I took charge of the situation by putting out the fire with two fire extinguishers before the firefighters arrived. At the same time, I had to ensure that no one was injured,” said SGT (V) William, who felt that it was necessary to use his firefighting skill that he honed during his NS training.


He further added, “As a CFR, I am touched whenever a member of the public wrote to thank me for helping him or her through a crisis. That is what keeps me going as a volunteer with SCDF!”


Corporal (NS) Muhammad Khair Bin Mohd Khirwan is an SCDF ORNS man who has been actively responding to emergency cases via the myResponder app. To date, he has attended to over 50 cases of minor fires and medical emergencies! CPL (NS) Khair is working as an Emergency Medical Technician with Lentor Ambulance, a private ambulance operator.


CPL(NS) KhairCPL (NS) Khair started his career as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) with Lentor Ambulance since his ORD in January 2020.


“Each time I respond to an emergency, I am so thankful that my first aid and firefighting skills which I had acquired during my NS training are put to good use,” CPL (NS) Khair commented.


CPL (NS) Khair recalled a medical emergency that he responded to via the myResponder app while jogging with his friends.


“We found the victim in the toilet. He was conscious and his head was bleeding. I checked on his pulse and breathing, all was fine. However, his speech was slurred, and part of his face was drooping. We therefore suspected that he was suffering from a stroke,” said CPL (NS) Khair who wasted no time dialling 995 and staying with the man until help arrived.


CPL (NS) Khair reflected that had he not been present at that moment when the man required emergency assistance, things could have turned out very differently.


“Knowing that I can make a positive difference to someone’s life at the very moment when his survival depends on it, really drives me to be even more committed to respond to future cases on the myResponder app,” he said.


CPL (NS) Khair also stressed that CFRs need to properly assess their immediate surroundings in ensuring personal safety before they can commence to help others during an emergency. He shared his off-duty encounter with a road traffic accident on his way home with his family last year.


“The lanes were badly affected by the collision, so my father and younger brother got out of the car to help direct traffic. My youngest brother, a trained nurse, rushed forward and together we assessed the situation. There were five casualties and two were trapped in a vehicle. The damage was so extensive that there was not much we could do except to call for help. I assisted by providing SCDF with information about the accident and later assisted the ambulance crew in managing the casualties,” said CPL (NS) Khair.


COL (V) MalikCOL (V) Malik served his ORNS as a Deputy Division Commander at HQ 2nd SCDF Division.


Colonel (V) Syed Abdul Malik Aljunied, currently the Deputy Commander of CDAU and Vice Chairman of the CDAU Executive Committee (EXCO), dedicates his time by empowering fellow CDAU volunteers to contribute their best to support the SCDF’s frontline operations. He is an employee of the Singapore National Olympic Council and seconded to the Singapore Taekwondo Federation as its Chief Executive Officer. In 2005, as an SCDF ORNS officer, he was involved in Operations Lionheart, the SCDF’s overseas humanitarian and disaster relief operations, in Muzaffarabad, Pakistan. He was also the pioneer recipient of the HomeTeamNSman of the Year award in 2007.


“There has been this strong sense of purpose in me to serve the nation since the day I was enlisted for NS in 1986,” recalled COL (V) Malik. “My NS journey, especially in SCDF, strengthened my resolve and reaffirmed my calling to assist others in times of emergencies. Here in SCDF, we groom leadership by example and practice the spirit of good teamwork.”


Although his roles in NS and CDAU are largely administrative, COL (V) Malik is ever ready to respond whenever there is an emergency.


“Anyone can be a CFR, and each has a vital role to play when responding to an emergency. I am heartened that more people today are stepping forward to help others, especially since the launch of the myResponder app,” opined COL (V) Malik.


He added that besides the myResponder app, SCDF’s public appreciation and recognition of the CFRs for their exemplary deeds has empowered more people to step forward to offer a helping hand to those in need.


COL (V) Malik recalled an incident years ago when he oversaw the medical intervention of an NS man who had collapsed after a run which was held at the Changi Exhibition Centre.


“All of us were shocked when that happened. But as chairman of the sporting event, I knew I had to respond quickly using whatever available resources within the premises. I oversaw the deployment of the doctors and paramedics who performed Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) on the man until he regained consciousness. He was later conveyed to the hospital by the SCDF. We were all so relieved that he eventually recovered,” said COL (V) Malik.


He added, “Reality struck me then — an emergency can occur anytime and anywhere, even within our proximity. As CFRs and ORNS men, regardless of rank, we have to be ever ready to respond with wit and composure.”