Man rescued after 10 hours with arm stuck in bathroom drain

Man rescued after 10 hours with arm stuck in bathroom drain
Mr Poh Chee Keat, whose hand was stuck in a drainage pipe, being taken to NUH after a four hour rescue operation.

A regular shower yesterday turned into a 10-hour ordeal for a Jurong West resident.

It led to a four-hour rescue operation by the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) and involved hacking the man's bathroom and his downstairs neighbour's bathroom before rescuers could free the man's arm.

Mr Poh Chee Keat, who is believed to be in his 50s, was alone at home in his eighth-storey home at Block 517C, Jurong West Street 52.

His wife and daughter were out when the businessman decided to take a shower at around noon.

During the shower, his ring fell into a drainage pipe in the master bedroom toilet.

Such pipes, which drain out waste water, usually have a cover for safety reasons and to keep out debris. But a neighbour told The New Paper that there wasn't a cover over Mr Poh's drainage pipe.

Neighbours said the man reached in with his right hand to retrieve his ring.

His arm was in as far as above his elbow when it became trapped.

He shouted for help, but failed to attract the neighbours' attention.

He remained trapped for nearly five hours before his wife returned home, said a neighbour, housewife Ann Chang Chow, in her 40s, who lives two doors away.

She said Mr Poh's wife of 37 years, Madam Lee Chwee Pang, became worried when her husband did not answer her phone calls.

Sensing something amiss, she went home to find him lying on the toilet floor. She immediately called the paramedics.

Madam Chang Chow said: "(Madam Lee) told me her husband had passed out when she first found him and she was worried it was something serious."

SCDF ALERTED

An SCDF spokesman confirmed that they received a call at about 6pm yesterday.

They sent a fire engine, a Red Rhino and three supporting vehicles to the scene.

Rescuers found Mr Poh lying on the bathroom floor with his hand lodged in the drainage pipe.

The four-hour rescue operation involved cutting the entire drainage pipe and drilling the toilet floor of Mr Poh's unit and that of his neighbour below.

There were paramedics on site to give Mr Poh oxygen. He was conscious and his condition was stable throughout the rescue.

Madam Chang Chow said that rescuers initially went to her unit and asked to borrow a small hand drill. But when they realised it was not enough to free his trapped arm, they brought in more equipment.

Mr Kalpesh Panchal, a piping engineer who lives with his family in the unit below Mr Poh's, said he could see the man's arm sticking out of the drainage pipe which led to his ceiling.

His bathroom floor was covered in debris and there was a gaping hole in the ceiling where the pipe had been.

Rescuers had spent about 1½ hours drilling the ceiling above his shower to free Mr Poh.

Said Mr Kalpesh, 34: "When they removed the bottom part of the pipe, I could see his hand, nearly up to his elbow. It was so swollen I knew they would have to remove the pipe with his hand."

By about 10pm, Mr Poh had been freed from the bathroom floor and taken conscious to the National University Hospital with a part of the pipe still attached to his arm.

Housing Board officers were seen visiting both units to make cleaning arrangements.

Business records show that Mr Poh owns two courier companies, Regent Courier Service and Rain or Shine Courier.


This article was first published on May 11, 2015.
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