Ensuring help is nearby to save a life

SINGAPORE - When business adviser Martin Wong was called to assist a man seen vomiting and perspiring at a food centre in June, he feared the man was suffering a heart attack.

Mr Wong, who is trained to give cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR), ran 400m from his Republic Plaza office to Golden Shoe for what turned out to be a false alarm.

"I was aware that every second counts and performing CPR quickly can really save lives," he said.

The 44-year-old was alerted by the Singapore Civil Defence Force's (SCDF) myResponder app, which calls qualified volunteers to suspected heart attack cases until emergency services arrive.

It is part of SCDF's Save-A-Life initiative, which was officially launched yesterday by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who placed an automated external defibrillator (AED) at a Pasir Ris block.

Save-A-Life aims to increase the survival rate of cardiac arrest victims by building a network of trained community responders.

"Having the 'heartware' is to make sure we have community responders who can react to an emergency," said DPM Teo, who is also Minister for Home Affairs .

The SCDF's chief medical officer, Dr Ng Yih Yng, said the myResponder mobile app is the "first of its kind on a national level" to be integrated with the SCDF's emergency dispatch and ambulance services.

"When someone calls 995, we can send out an alert to people within 400m of the cardiac arrest case and they will be able to help," he added.

AEDs listed on the app are drawn from National AED Registry, which was created by the Singapore Heart Foundation (SHF) and SCDF in April.

There are about 800 AEDs on the registry now and although other unofficial lists contain more, Dr Yih said those on the registry are publicly accessible at all times and that data is kept updated by SHF together with business owners.

The move was welcomed by Pasir Ris resident Chen Ruiqi, 41, whose father-in-law collapsed and died of a heart attack in 2003. She could not help then, but has since gone for CPR-AED skills training.

"With the AEDs now available at the HDB blocks and residents going for training, I feel more confident to help if an emergency happens," she said.

There are currently 160 AEDs in the lift lobbies of HDB blocks in six constituencies, including Pasir Ris West. SCDF plans to increase the number in these areas to about 400 by 2017.

Ultimately, it hopes to have one AED for every two to three HDB blocks nationwide.

Individuals trained in CPR and AED use can register as community first responders on the app.

The public can also submit photos of AEDs with "geo-tagged" location data if they find new locations not in the registry. The SHF will approach AED owners for permission before listing them on the registry.


This article was first published on August 7, 2015.
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