Temperature checks to ensure troops are fighting fit

SINGAPORE - Singapore's army has been beefing up its training safety, and one of its latest moves is to make it mandatory for soldiers to carry out body-temperature checks before commencing strenuous physical activities.

The move, implemented in May last year, is an added precautionary measure to identify soldiers who may be unwell, Colonel Wong Yu Han, assistant chief of the general staff in charge of training, told My Paper on Sunday.

"As with past practice, soldiers are also asked if they are feeling unwell and given the opportunity to excuse themselves before a physical activity," Col Wong added.

My Paper understands that, as part of the move, soldiers have been issued with a personal digital thermometer to take their own temperature before strenuous activities, like route marches and physical training.

If a soldier is found to have a body temperature of 37.5 deg C or higher, his condition will be monitored, with a second reading taken shortly after. Soldiers who are unwell are excused from strenuous activities and sent to the doctor.

The temperature-taking measures apply to all army servicemen, including operationally-ready national servicemen.

A full-time national serviceman, 21, who declined to be named, told My Paper that the system helps to identify "overzealous" troops who may be ill but still insist on going ahead with training.

"There are guys who don't know their limits. (The measure) is tedious but it works." The officer in a combat unit said the soldiers' temperatures are noted in a record book, and added that a buddy system helps to ensure that accurate readings are taken.

Dr Bernard Loo, associate professor of strategy and war at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said the system can also identify soldiers who are malingering. He said: "We do not want the medical centres to be inundated with these kinds of cases."

Col Wong said: "The safety of our soldiers is of paramount importance and we continually review our measures to enhance training safety and ensure the well-being of our soldiers."


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