Doc helped Super Typhoon Haiyan victims

Dr Puneet Seth says that “by virtue of working in the emergency department, you get used to reacting quickly”.
PHOTO: Doc helped Super Typhoon Haiyan victims

When Super Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines in November last year, Dr Puneet Seth was there within days to help treat the injured and the sick.

Working with a team of volunteers, he helped treat 1,200 people over five days, including children with chest infections from polluted water and adults injured while clearing debris.

For going beyond the call of duty, Dr Seth, a consultant at the Singapore General Hospital's (SGH) department of emergency medicine, was given the Honourable Mention Award at this year's Healthcare Humanity Awards.

"That was my biggest disaster relief experience, and one of the most rewarding," the 42-year-old recalled. But Dr Seth is no stranger to confusion and disorder; he deals with smaller-scale emergencies on a daily basis, ranging from patients with strokes to people injured in traffic accidents.

He is also involved in preparing for disasters such as pandemics or terrorist attacks.

"By virtue of working in the emergency department, you get used to reacting quickly," he said.

"We're used to uncertainty and chaos, and we're used to working at a moment's notice."

For instance, he was on duty at SGH's accident and emergency department when a worksite accident happened in January, and more than 10 injured men were taken to the hospital at the same time. To get them the best treatment the moment they arrived, he had to recall staff who were not around, get medical equipment ready and liaise with other departments within minutes.

Said Dr Seth: "I think it's a big responsibility on our shoulders and you need to make sure you are mentally prepared. It's a big privilege."

This article was published on May 15 in The Straits Times.Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.