Citizens 'part of national safety effort'

SINGAPORE has more than 9,000 citizen crime fighters, and twice as many who are trained in basic first aid, said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean last Friday.

DPM Teo, who is also Minister for Home Affairs, shared these numbers at the opening ceremony of the inaugural Home Team Festival at the Singapore Expo.

Referring to members of the public who have contributed their time to join Home Team volunteer groups, DPM Teo pointed out that in the first nine months of this year alone, more than 80 new Citizens-on-Patrol groups were formed, adding some 2,000 new members to their headcount.

There are also currently 18,000 citizens in Community Emergency Response Teams who are trained in first aid and emergency response skills.

While Home Team professionals work closely together on challenging issues such as drug smuggling, DPM Teo said contributions from ordinary citizens are equally important.

He said: "Our strong partnerships with the community play an integral role in ensuring our safety and security."

About a hundred awards were also given out at the festival to recognise Home Team officers in areas such as innovation and service.

One of the recipients was Ms Helen Wong, 51, an airport checkpoint inspector with the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority.

She received the Ministry of Home Affairs Star Service Award, which recognises officers with outstanding service qualities.

In June, Ms Wong rescued a five-year-old girl who had climbed onto a luggage conveyor belt and disappeared behind the carousel curtain. Ms Wong, who has worked as a checkpoint officer for 20 years, crawled onto the belt and carried the girl back to safety.

"I was so scared that the girl would fall from the belt. I only thought of her safety and grabbed her out of harm's way," recalled Ms Wong.

The three-day festival, which allows the public to learn more about the Home Team's work through exhibitions and games, is expected to draw 40,000 people. 

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