Members of the public can now learn first-aid skills, including how to carry out cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), in just five hours.
Under the new Citizen First Responder Training Programme launched yesterday, they can also learn how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED) to help someone who has a heart attack.
While most first-aid courses require about three days, or 24 hours, of training, this shorter programme aims to equip the community with essential life-saving skills.
Participants will be taught how to use a first-aid box and deal with eight common conditions, including stroke, fainting, heat exhaustion, burns and fractures.
They will pick up the skills through hands-on practice and be put through a short theory and practical test to earn a certificate in the course, designed by the National Resuscitation Council and the National First Aid Council.
The goal of the National First Aid Council is to have at least one trained and certified first aider in every home by 2020.
The new course was launched yesterday by Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean at the fifth National Life Saving Day, held at the Pasir Ris Sports & Recreation Centre.
Mr Teo said about 1,400 cases of cardiac arrest here happen outside hospital settings every year.
Five years ago, the survival rate was 2.5 per cent, but this has improved to 11 per cent, Mr Teo said. This is because the rate at which bystanders have helped by performing CPR has doubled from 22 per cent five years ago to 42 per cent, he added.
"This was done by having more people trained and also... the SCDF (Singapore Civil Defence Force) dispatch centre asking and guiding people on how to give first-response assistance to the person whom they are reporting for," said Mr Teo.
The Singapore Red Cross Academy is the first to offer the Citizen First Responder course, with plans to roll it out to all 84 accredited CPR-AED training centres in time.
National Resuscitation Council chairman V. Anantharaman estimates that at least 500,000 people will need to be trained annually to reach the target of having one first aider in every home.
"Every year, nearly 3,000 people die from coronary heart disease or heart attack in Singapore, with about half of these people collapsing before they can reach a hospital," he added.
Yesterday, 400 residents from the Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC underwent training to become the first batch of participants to be certified as first aiders under the scheme.
The certifications are valid for two years and can be renewed by attending a refresher course.
Those who wish to attend the course, which costs $45, can contact the Singapore Red Cross on 6664-0565 from 9am to 6pm during weekdays.
This article was first published on January 18, 2016.
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