First-aiders to the rescue at park

SINGAPORE - You may have noticed them at East Coast Park, riding bicycles fitted with fluttering Red Cross flags and with white signs stuck on the front baskets, which read: "You need first aid? Stop me!"

Their role: To ply the park and render first aid to park users, such as cyclists, runners or beach-goers, on weekends and public holidays.

The 140 volunteers involved are part of a pilot project aptly named "First Aiders on Wheels".

It will be officially launched by the Singapore Red Cross (SRC) on May 19 to commemorate International World Red Cross Day, which falls on May 8.

These volunteers are certified first-aiders and respond to a spectrum of emergencies, ranging from simple cuts and bruises to heat-related injuries.

SRC's head of community services, Ms Serene Chia, said the project is much needed, given the large number of park users on weekends.

"With this project, at least they know they have someone to approach if they suffer a fall and need help," explained Ms Chia.

The project was first launched in 2009, but failed due to a lack of volunteers and logistics constraints.

She explained: "We have made some improvements to the current plan and learnt a lot from the first time."

Each team of between six and 10 volunteers is led by a team leader, and is stationed under a white tent set up along the beach near Carpark C4.

From there, two pairs of volunteers, each comprising a male and female first-aider, cycle in opposite directions. They carry with them items such as creams, bandages and cold packs.

"One team goes towards the area near Big Splash and back, while the other goes in the opposite direction, towards Bedok Jetty," explained volunteer Ms Michelle L, 21, a relief teacher.

The teams provide first-aid coverage until about 7pm on weekends. Their shifts start from 3pm on Saturdays and 10am on Sundays.

"We normally get simple cases like cuts and abrasions, and minor collisions, which we try our best to attend to," explained Mr Bob Harper, 58, a team leader on duty when my paper met the volunteers last Saturday.

Ms Chia said there are plans to extend the project to all parks nationwide, when there are enough volunteers and resources.

Those keen on becoming a volunteer can approach the Singapore Red Cross directly.

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