A man's heart had stopped and people were trying desperately to save him. Some took turns applying cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
Eventually, someone checked and said there was a pulse, so they stopped giving him CPR.
A crowd had gathered around 8am on Dec 15, after a man collapsed near the end of the East Coast Park connector.
But the man was far from safe.
Meanwhile, Dr Ng Yih Yng, 39, was cycling with his wife, manager Ho Whei Chern, 37, and his two daughters, Freya, 11 and Hana, nine, at a 21km cycling event for Habitat for Humanity Singapore. It is a non-profit organisation that builds affordable homes overseas for the less fortunate.
The family stopped for a water break at the halfway mark at the end of the East Coast Park connector.
When Dr Ng and his family turned back to continue cycling, he noticed a group of people standing around someone on the ground. A passer-by told him a man in his 50s had collapsed while cycling with friends.
Said Dr Ng, who is also the chief medical officer of the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF): "The man had slow gasping breathing and was lying on his side."
There were six people helping the man, including two Caucasian men and three Republic of Singapore Air Force personnel. They had been doing CPR, but stopped because they thought he had a pulse.
Dr Ng said: "I checked him again and I realised that he did not have a pulse. He had agonal breathing, which was the breath of a dying man."
When he saw that, he told the group that they needed to continue CPR.
CALLED FOR HELP
Dr Ng called for an ambulance at 8.55am.
Three or four of them took turns doing CPR for around 10 to 15 minutes while waiting for an ambulance to arrive.
Dr Ng performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on the man.
And there was yet another twist.
The SCDF sent an ambulance, but its ambulance crew had a problem when they arrived just minutes after the call.
The man was about 300m from the nearest carpark and the ambulance crew realised their vehicle could not get into the East Coast Park connector network.
Paramedic staff sergeant (SSG) Arrianna Isa, 31, and medic lance corporal Muhammad Shah Salim, 21, took whatever equipment they needed out of the ambulance and emergency medical technician sergeant Abdul Hakim Kamalzaman, 24, drove the ambulance to find a way inside.
SSG Arrianna said: "My thought was just to get to the patient first. We had no choice, we had to run in."
SSG Arrianna and Lance Cpl Shah jogged with a defibrillator, an oxygen tank, a mechanical CPR device and a stretcher, weighing around 60 kg, all the way to the victim.
"I was just worried whether we would reach there in time. Time was crucial for the patient," SSG Arrianna said.
When the team reached the scene in about 10 minutes, they were surprised to find their boss, Dr Ng, performing CPR on the patient.
Although shocked, they quickly got back on track, focusing on saving the man.
Dr Ng briefed them on what happened and they worked together to put the man on a canvas sheet and set up the mechanical CPR machine when they felt no pulse.
They shocked him once with the defibrillator to get a pulse, but there was no effect. The man regained his pulse after they tried again.
Still unconscious, he was rushed to the intensive care unit in Changi General Hospital after the ambulance managed to find a way in to the park connector.
The New Paper understands that he is still recovering in hospital.
Spotting cardiac arrest
Cardiac arrest is where the heart stops beating.
It happens without warning and can lead to death within minutes.
1 NO RESPONSE
Person is unconscious and unresponsive to sound or touch.
2 NO BREATH
Person is not breathing or is gasping for air. No pulse can be felt.
3 NO WARMTH
Skin turns pale, grey and feels cold to the touch.
4 GET HELP
Call 995, try to find an automated external defibrillator and begin CPR immediately.
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