Tap commuter volunteers' help during train breakdowns

One Saturday morning a few years ago, I was near West Mall when a bus and a truck collided at a T-junction close to the mall.

The truck driver was thrown through the windscreen onto the road and his passenger was unconscious. There were injured bus passengers, too.

As there was no immediate police assistance available, I asked the crowd of onlookers for help and two men stepped forward.

Together, we devised a plan to secure the area and ensure there were no traffic jams, so that the emergency vehicles could get there.

Across the road were passers-by who were from a community group. They said they were trained in first aid and offered to look after the injured bus passengers.

We remained at our posts until the ambulance and Traffic Police arrived. The whole episode took about 30 minutes.

This incident shows that there are people around us who are skilled and willing to help during incidents in the community.

Instead of just relying on service staff at train stations, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan can tap some of the commuters as volunteers during train failures ("Rail failures: Kampung spirit can help"; Oct 25).

They can be the first to be notified of any train failures, so they can be on standby to help.

They can also be trained to help manage the movement of stranded commuters, attend to injuries, pass messages, and look after schoolchildren, especially those who are travelling unaccompanied.

Incident management need not always be top-down and within fixed organisational boundaries.

It can come from volunteers who are already on the scene.

Yum Shoen Liang

This article was first published on Nov 9, 2015.
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