7 firefighters certified to give medical help

SINGAPORE - The first batch of seven firefighters trained to render immediate medical assistance in emergencies graduated on Thursday after an eight-week training programme.

The firefighters, who are now certified emergency medical technicians, will be attached to the Emergency Ambulance Service.

They will work alongside paramedics for two years to gain practical experience before returning to their respective fire stations.

The training scheme was introduced in April this year at the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) Workplan Seminar to allow firefighters, usually the first to arrive on scene, to give necessary aid to victims before paramedics arrive.

Speaking at the seminar, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean called the scheme a "potential game-changer" in how the SCDF maximises its officers' potential.

As well as performing their firefighting duties, the graduates of the scheme now have skills to handle cardiac arrests and asthma attacks, and manage trauma patients.

They will be able to administer intravenous drips, carry out bleeding control and will also be trained to perform triage - the sorting of patients based on the severity of their illnesses or injuries.

Firefighters are currently trained in basic first aid.

The seven trainees had theory and practical training before undergoing a two-day assessment at the Civil Defence Academy in Jalan Bahar earlier this week.

Course instructor Janice Oh said the training was not easy for the firefighters, who had to study medical terms, procedures and protocols.

"These trainees are fire-trained and to make the switch to being medically-trained takes a lot of determination," Captain Oh added.

The scheme will be implemented progressively over the next three years, with the eventual aim of equipping each fire station here with at least one team of emergency medical technicians.

Sergeant Raphael Tan, 24, who passed the course, said the medical training was an invaluable asset to his firefighting skills.

"In a fire, we often come across victims facing asthma attacks after smoke inhalation but we don't have the medical skills or equipment to help them before the ambulance arrives.

"Now we're adding value to our services, so it's better."

The next batch of firefighters will start their training at the end of September.

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