Few jitters for this pioneer

HANOI - He is the first emergency medical technician (EMT) from the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) to be sent for an overseas assignment.

For Sergeant Abdul Hamid, being a pioneer stressed him a little, but he quickly overcame these fears once the mission began.

"I definitely feel a little pressured being the first-ever EMT to be sent overseas to represent SCDF, but I was trained to operate under pressure," the 24-year-old said.

As an EMT, Sgt Abdul is qualified to carry out independent patient assessment and provide basic life support before the arrival of paramedics.

Together with seven others, Sgt Abdul was sent by the SCDF to take part in the ASEAN Disaster Emergency Response Simulation Exercise (Ardex) held in Hanoi, Vietnam, last week.

The four-day exercise simulated a typhoon disaster and was facilitated by the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management.

It involved six other ASEAN countries such as the Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia.

The centre, which coordinates the rescue efforts of ASEAN nations and international agencies, was established last year. This was the first time the centre's role was demonstrated in Ardex.

During the exercise, the SCDF team was tasked with rescuing trapped casualties from a three-storey building in the Thuy An commune in Ba Vi district.

Sgt Abdul said there was much to learn from Vietnam: "I feel fortunate to be living in Singapore which has no major natural disasters, so this is why it is important to learn from other countries' experiences."


Just two weeks ago, Vietnam suffered severe flooding caused by Typhoon Nari, which killed 11 and left five missing.

Sgt Abdul belongs to the first batch of seven men from SCDF's first EMT Course, which was introduced this year and which won the Home Team Innovation Gold Award 2013.

And he was the Best Trainee.

For First Warrant Officer (1WO) Mohd Norhan, 31, it was his first time handling the complex equipment used by SCDF's elite Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (Dart).

That was because during his national service days, he served as a military policeman at the detention barracks and was not required to use fire-fighting equipment.

He learnt how to handle basic firefighting equipment only after he became an operationally-ready national serviceman and was posted to an MRT shelter company.

1WO Mohd Norhan was tasked to perform shoring operations for the team.

Shoring involves reinforcing unstable structures such as doorways that might collapse any time.

He said: "Some of the equipment used by the Dart personnel were things I had never seen. They were much more impressive and powerful compared to what I have used before."

As a safety officer for an engineering company, 1WO Mohd was keen on learning about the safety practices of the various countries' rescue teams.

The former security guard added: "Compared to dealing with power failures in my (current) job, this (exercise) was way more challenging and had more of an adrenaline rush since lives were at stake."

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