For about 30 minutes, a seven-year-old girl had to endure pain after her left leg was stuck in a Yishun Street 81 metal drain cover.
Frantic neighbours tried pulling her out, using water and soap. But they failed.
The incident happened when the girl, whose mother asked that her name not be published, was on her way to tuition with her maid on Saturday at 3pm.
The ground was wet and slippery from the rain earlier in the day. The girl's left leg slipped through a gap in the drain grate which was missing a bar.
Residents and the girl's mother, who wanted to be known only as Madam Tan, said one of the bars in the grate had been missing for some time.
The self-employed 42-year-old said she was doing her chores at home when she heard someone screaming and crying.
Her fourth-storey flat at Block 819 is near the drain.
"I didn't know who was crying and screaming at first," she said.
"But when I looked out of the window, I realised it was my girl."
By the time she rushed down, neighbours were already trying to free the girl.
A neighbour who wanted to be known as Madam Koh, 45, said she was one of those who tried pulling the girl's leg out.
But the housewife realised that instead of helping, the pulling and tugging only caused more pain and abrasion.
Madam Koh added that a neighbour then took out a bucket of water and soap. They poured the water and soap on the girl's leg, hoping this would free her. But they were again unsuccessful.
The girl was freed only after Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) officers widened the bars of the drain grate.
An SCDF spokesman told The New Paper yesterday: "We received a phone call requesting help at 3.36pm. When we arrived, we tried - unsuccessfully - to pull her leg out.
"In the end, we had to use a hydraulic tool to wrench the bars apart."
The girl was taken to KK Women's and Children's Hospital where she was treated for minor injuries.
Madam Tan said her daughter suffered bruises and some swelling on her left knee.
"She still seems a little traumatised and doesn't really want to talk about the incident," she added.
Madam Tan believes that the drain grate has since been fixed by the Town Council. When she passed by and checked it yesterday, it no longer had any missing bars.
Referring to the residents who tried to free her daughter, she said: "They were really helpful. And most of them are my neighbours. We have known one another for a long time."
Saturday's incident at Yishun was the second case in three days.
Last Thursday, a three-year-old girl had her head stuck between railings before she was rescued by two foreign workers.
WHAT TO DO WHEN STUCK
Here are tips from the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) on what you should do in such situations:
- Don't panic. While people have a tendency to do so, panicking does not help and often leads to struggling, which can make the situation worse.
- Don't struggle. Struggling, as in the case of the three-year-old whose head was stuck between railings in the balcony, could have led to her falling from her second-storey flat.
- Get someone to call SCDF at 995 and wait for help.
If you come across someone who is stuck, you should:
- Calm the person down.
- Call SCDF.
- Assure the person that help is coming.
This article was first published on Apr 28, 2015.
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