DPM Teo Chee Hean at National Life Saving Day 2016 on 17 January 2016

17 January 2016

DPM Teo Chee Hean at Life Saving Day 2016 on 17 Jan 16

Ladies and Gentlemen

Good morning, and thank you for being part of National Life Saving Day 2016. Today, Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC will pioneer the Citizen First-Responder Program, with about 400 residents receiving their Citizen First-Responder certification today. We want to be a country with Citizen First-Responders in or near every home, work place and public place.

How can a Citizen First-Responder help in a meaningful way? Let me give one example. When a person suffers from cardiac arrest, it is usually because his heart suddenly has an abnormal heart rhythm. With its pumping action disrupted, the heart cannot pump blood to the brain, lungs and other organs. A cardiac arrest patient loses consciousness within seconds, and can die within minutes without treatment.

Every year in Singapore, at least 1,400 cases of cardiac arrest take place outside of hospital settings. Sadly, currently only 11% survive.[1] Just five years ago, in Singapore, the rate at which bystanders helped by performing CPR in a cardiac arrest case was about 22%. With greater public awareness, more people being trained, and promotion of telephone-assisted CPR, our bystander CPR rate has nearly doubled from 22% to about 42%.[2] This has helped improve survival rates for those who collapse from heart disease outside of hospital from about 2.5% to 11%. All of us can help to improve these survival rates, by providing assistance to someone who suffers from cardiac arrest, before medical help arrives. It could be a friend, a workmate, a relative that you save. And even if you helped a complete stranger this time, it could be a complete stranger who steps forward to save your friend, relative or workmate next time when you yourself are not there to help.

Today, I am happy to announce that Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC is pioneering the first certifiable Citizen First-Responder Training Program. This five-hour training programme has been specially designed by the National Resuscitation Council and the National First-Aid Council working closely with many first-aid and CPR+AED training centres, as well as organisations such as SportSG, Singapore Heart Foundation and People’s Association. The programme includes the CPR+AED course, as well as the Citizen First-Aid course. Participants will learn CPR and use of AED so that they can help to provide first response to cardiac arrest cases until paramedics arrive. The Citizen First-Aid Course teaches participants how to use the contents of a First-Aid box, what to do when dealing with 8 common time-critical situations, namely fainting, unconsciousness, stroke, breathlessness, heat exhaustion & heat stroke, bleeding, burns, and fractures. We hope that this and other training programmes will help us to reach the National First-Aid Council’s goal of at least one trained and certified first aider in every home by 2020.

Today, we also recognise 20 life-savers from the community and our Emergency Ambulance Services, by presenting them with Survivor Awards. The Unit for Pre-hospital Emergency Care at Singapore General Hospital in partnership with the Singapore Civil Defence Force have made this more meaningful by reuniting some of our life-savers with the persons whom they helped to save. One of our community life-savers was present when a man collapsed in an eatery, and called the SCDF for ambulance assistance. Even though he did not know CPR, he followed the instructions of the SCDF dispatcher and performed chest compression on the man until the SCDF ambulance arrived. Because he was concerned enough and prepared to act, the man survived. Please join me in applauding the efforts made by all our life-savers. May you inspire more Singaporeans to do the same for others.

I would also like to thank the National Resuscitation Council and the National First-Aid Council for initiating this important national programme, and bringing it to Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC. To our residents here today, thank you for coming forward to be trained. You have taken this important step to empower yourselves to save lives, in the community, at work, and in public places. I hope you will be inspired by the life-savers present today, and step up to be a community life-saver when you are in the immediate vicinity of a cardiac arrest case. Please also help to share with your family and friends, the importance of learning life-saving skills, so that we can train even more Citizen First-Responders.

Together, we can promote self-help, care for one another, and make Singapore a more resilient community. Thank you.

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[1] The statistics in paragraph 3 are drawn or calculated from data in the following paper: Hsuan Lai, Caroline V. Choong, Stephanie Fook-Chong, Yih Yng Ng,Eric A. Finkelstein, Benjamin Haaland, E. Shaun Goh, Benjamin Sieu-Hon Leong, Han Nee Gan, David Foo, Lai Peng Tham, Rabind Charles, Marcus Eng Hock Ong, For the PAROS study group. Interventional strategies associated with improvements in survival for out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in Singapore over 10 years. Resuscitation 89 (2015) 155–161. Note: Based on the 3025 cardiac arrests for the 26-month period from April 2010 to May 2012, giving rise to an average of 1396 cardiac arrests per annum.

[2] The figure of 42% is from local yet-to-be-published data from work being carried out by a research team located at the Department of Emergency Medicine at the Singapore General Hospital as part of an Asia-wide program called the Pan Asian Resuscitation Outcomes Study (PAROS).