Two paramedics were faced with a do-or-die situation at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital on Saturday evening.
Just after 7pm, the pair heard a commotion and went to a room where they saw a man raining blows on a police officer with a baton.
They were initially cautious and stood back.
But when the male paramedics from Hope Ambulance saw the man struggling with the officer over a revolver, they bravely stepped in to help.
What happened in the next few moments could have ended in tragedy if not for the quick-thinking paramedics, sources told The New Paper yesterday.
In a statement last night, the police said the man, a 24-year-old Singaporean who had been detained for motor vehicle theft, had been escorted to the hospital on Saturday after complaining of chest pains.
While in a private room, the suspect tried to escape and struggled with the officer, during which shots were fired, hitting the officer's left thumb and right foot.
According to sources, another police officer, who had escorted the suspect to the hospital, was not in the room when the incident happened.
Moments before the shots went off, the paramedics, who are in their 20s, knew they had to help the officer subdue the suspect before the situation got worse.
Improvising, one of them grabbed a blanket from a nearby bed and the other took a pillow.
The 31-year-old police officer managed to wrestle his attacker to the floor just as the paramedics joined the fray.
One of them used the pillow to press the revolver, which was still being held by the officer and suspect, to the floor.
The other paramedic covered the attacker with the blanket to try to pin him down as all four men found themselves rolling on the floor.
During the struggle, three shots rang out.
When the paramedics realised the officer had been shot, they continued to maintain their grip on the suspect, who was struggling violently.
Nurses and security guards soon showed up to help them pin down the suspect. The injured cop was taken out of the room.
The men were able to release their hold on the suspect only after he was sedated. He was later placed in a hospital bed and restrained with flexi-cuffs.
It is believed the paramedics were shocked to discover that the revolver was real. They had initially thought it was a Taser or a gun that fires rubber bullets.
Some netizens have praised the bravery of the paramedics and called for them to be given awards.
When TNP approached Hope Ambulance yesterday, its spokesman declined to comment and referred the matter to the police.
What little is known about the two men is that they are single and recently joined Hope Ambulance.
One of them had previously learnt martial arts.
It was by chance that they were close by and heard medical staff running along a corridor shouting for help to call the police.
When they heard there was a fight in one of the hospital rooms, curiosity led them to it and their bravery may have prevented the situation from turning lethal.
Suspects should be handcuffed at the back: Experts
A suspect whose hands are restrained behind his back would find it almost impossible to grab hold of a policeman's revolver, say two former cops.
They added that the shooting of the police officer on Saturday could have occurred if the suspect's hands were handcuffed in front.
It is not known whether the suspect was restrained or how he was restrained when he was taken to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH).
Mr Joseph Tan, 48, who served in the police force from 1985 to 1992, said that during his time, suspects had to have their hands handcuffed at the back at all times when they were escorted in public.
"In this case, the suspect could have told the policeman that he wanted to use the toilet. The officer could have then transferred the handcuffs from his back to his front," said the founder of the Crime Library, a voluntary group that helps track missing people.
But Mr Tan said this was something that he would never have done when he was a policeman.
He added: "I would even help unzip and undress the suspect if he needs to go to the toilet. His handcuffs had to remain at his back.
"If he were to soil himself, then too bad. It's a small price to pay for security."
According to sources, the shooting at KTPH took place after a policeman had left a consultation room, leaving his colleague alone with the suspect.
Mr Tan said that two officers have to be with a suspect at all times.
"Two officers must be present even when the suspect has to use the toilet. And the door must be left wide open even when he has to defecate," he said.
TAKE NO CHANCES
Mr Davy Chan, 68, who was a police officer between 1967 and 1979, said police officers should not take any chances when dealing with suspects.
The Police Gallantry Medal winner, who is now a security operations supervisor, said: "One has to assume that all suspects are desperate to escape. I have a heart of stone and never listened to a suspect's request to be handcuffed in front."
Mr Chan was once injured after being shot.
This happened in October 1972, when he was shot at Labrador Park by a man known as Mustapha Hassan, one of Singapore's most dangerous criminals at the time.
Mustapha and his older brother Abdul Wahab were known as the Hassan brothers and they committed many offences, including gun smuggling.
Said Mr Chan: "Mustapha shot me in the neck and I was lucky to survive. As a result of this, I feel that policemen must be alert at all times and expect the unexpected."
Agreeing, Mr Tan said: "I think this incident at KTPH could have been avoided if the policeman had continued to handcuff the suspect from his back.
"It's fortunate that no one was seriously hurt or killed in the incident."
This article was first published on June 22, 2015.
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