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All CCs to be equipped with AEDs by end of year

All 107 community centres (CC) will be equipped with defibrillators by the end of the year. The People's Association is also hoping to train residents in life-saving skills such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

SINGAPORE: All 107 community centres will be equipped with defibrillators by the end of the year.

The People's Association (PA) is also hoping to train residents in life-saving skills such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

The initiatives are part of a plan to raise the community's level of preparedness to deal with emergencies.

Ms Andrea Goh is one of about 30 residents in Choa Chu Kang who just took up a first aid training course over the weekend.

In just three hours, Ms Goh learnt how to do chest compressions and to use an automated external defibrillator (AED).

"My father-in-law himself has a history of heart attack, and I think this course is really very helpful -- it's life-saving not only to the people whom we love, but there is also a lot of people we come into contact with everyday and if we're equipped with this knowledge, we can step up and actually save a life,” said the 33-year-old IT analyst.

Data from the Ministry of Health (MOH) show that 3,000 people in Singapore die from heart attacks every year.

Without proper intervention, the victim's survival rate falls by up to 10 per cent for every minute delayed in providing CPR or using an AED.

Thus, PA is hoping to train some 4,500 grassroots leaders and residents over two years in life-saving skills.

Associate Professor Marcus Ong, a senior consultant at the Pre-Hospital Emergency Care (Hospital Services Division) at MOH, said: “Traditionally, CPR was taught in a one-day, eight-hour kind of programme and did not include AED training, and we realised that this is a gap because many people find it hard to commit to a full-day kind of training.

“So we've been able to streamline that training to a three-hour programme where you will learn not only CPR but also AED, and receive a certificate.

“In the past, when we did CPR training, there was a lot of emphasis on learning theory and head knowledge. And I think what we realised the laymen public actually needs is more motivation on why you should actually do CPR, as well as the practical aspects of it, the hands-on practice.

“So by actually reducing the theoretical part of it and focusing more time on the hands-on practice, we've been able to design a more concise and more effective course.”

Some 1,500 PA staff have so far been trained and certified in the last six months.

William Goh, Residents’ Committee (RC) manager at Chua Chu Kang Constituency, said: "I had a heart attack myself two-and-a-half months back. Recently, I just came back to work and I found out that they're conducting this course.

“As an RC manager, we organise a lot of activities for our residents. And most of the residents are quite elderly -- many of them are above 50.

“So since I've gone through this course, I know what to do should any emergency happen."

PA will equip each community centre with two AEDs, which are already found at places like army camps, shopping malls and train stations.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said: “The CC is also a place where many of our residents congregate. And therefore it's an important place for us to install these AEDs so that our community leaders would be able to provide the first response."

It is estimated there are some 3,000 to 4,000 AEDs in Singapore – but exactly where are they located?

Thus, authorities are now working with the Singapore Heart Foundation to build a national registry containing the location of the AEDs.

That information will then be compiled into a smartphone app, which will be released within a year, to help first responders locate the nearest AED in case of an emergency.

The Singapore Heart Foundation currently has its own database of about 1,000 AEDs in Singapore, and it is hoping to release the updated registry within a year.

Mr Gan added MOH will be revamping the first responder training framework, which would involve having different levels of training, with the basic one taking just 45 minutes.

Associate Professor Ong said the basic course would be conducted in schools, community centres and at the workplace, with DVD-based hands-on training.

During emergencies, first responders can call 995 and the despatcher would be able to give advice on how to provide aid through chest compression.

The ministry is planning to train a million people over five years. 

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