SINGAPORE: Yew Tee Point customer service officer Nur Aishah Mohamed Roslan was almost done for the day when her experience of working at the mall would change forever.
“It was actually quite a quiet day; I just had to settle some internal tenant issues,” she recalled of that evening on Sep 12.
“At about 8pm, I was literally lounging on the chair at the counter when a shopper came up to me and went, ‘Your cleaner fell down (in the toilet).’”
Ms Aishah, 30, is no stranger to attending to customer feedback.
She was a flight stewardess with Scoot until COVID-19 disrupted the aviation industry. In August, she was seconded to Frasers Property and now works 12-hour shifts at Yew Tee Point four days a week.
Based on the shopper’s account, Ms Aishah thought that the cleaner had sprained his ankle or bumped his head. She brought along a first aid kit, walkie-talkie and the key to her counter. “I brought my wallet in case I could go grab a coffee as well,” she joked.
But when Ms Aishah pushed through a crowd in the first-floor toilet to reach the cleaner, she knew that coffee would have to wait.
The man was lying motionless on the floor near the urinals, Ms Aishah said. His legs were folded and his body felt cold and clammy. “You cannot see his chest rise,” she said. “Nothing was going on.”
The mall’s security officer, Mr Ram Kumar Baskaran, was already at the scene. Mr Ram, 37, had earlier checked for pulse and breathing. Nothing either.
“I panicked a bit, but I wanted to save his life,” Mr Ram said. “Because there was no breathing, no nothing. This means it was an emergency.”
JUMPING INTO IT
It turns out the cleaner had had a heart attack while fixing a leaking sink.
A shopper called for an ambulance and put the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) officer on speaker. Ms Aishah started cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and told Mr Ram to fetch an automated external defibrillator (AED).
“I just immediately jumped into it,” she said, as she recalled interlocking her fingers, pumping hard and reporting her progress to the SCDF officer.
When another security officer, Mr Balakrishnan Gopinathan, joined them, Ms Aishah asked him to cut open the cleaner’s shirt to prepare for the AED. The three of them took turns doing CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
At one point, Mr Ram was in charge of CPR while Mr Balakrishnan did the mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Ms Aishah helped with the counting and gave instructions, urging the security officers to push harder.
“It was very simultaneous teamwork,” she said.
Added 46-year-old Mr Balakrishnan: “I felt tired, but this is someone’s life and I needed to help him.”
Ms Aishah recalled having to deal with the people around her as well. A number of them asked if she needed help. Someone even asked if he could use the urinal as she was doing CPR. “Can you imagine my voice (when I replied)?” she said.
While Ms Aishah carried out the medical procedures like clockwork and tried to drown out the commotion, she still felt stressed out by the crowd. She reminded onlookers not to take photos or videos.
“People were just watching and some were waiting outside the toilet to see if they could take pictures,” she said. “That gave me the pressure and it was quite disturbing at the same time.”
Nevertheless, Ms Aishah said she is used to multitasking from her flying career.
She and the security officers went through three cycles of CPR before administering a charge from the AED.
There were encouraging signs as the cleaner coughed out some foam. But after Ms Aishah turned him around and slapped him on the back, he remained unconscious. She started another cycle of CPR before sparking up a second charge.
That was when SCDF paramedics rushed in, about 10 minutes after they first started CPR. They put a self-inflating bag around the cleaner’s mouth to help him breathe and loaded him on a stretcher.
“I realised that he’s actually okay, because there was nothing else. They just had to squeeze (the bag),” Ms Aishah said.
THEY WOULD DO IT AGAIN
The 69-year-old cleaner has been discharged from hospital.
Ms Aishah is relieved that he is doing fine. “At that point of time I felt like I did something,” she said. “I don’t think many people would have the courage to do it. Because when you panic, your head is not in the right place.”
She has also met the man’s wife and daughter, describing the moment as “emotional”.
“They were just saying things like, ‘If it wasn’t for you and everybody else, I would not see my father anymore,’” she said. “The wife said she was not ready to be a widow.”
On Sep 24, the SCDF presented Ms Aishah, Mr Ram and Mr Balakrishnan with the Community First Responder Award for their efforts.
Mr Ram said he is “really happy” with his contribution, adding that the first aid training Frasers had sent him for has served him well. Mr Balakrishnan said he would help out again without hesitation.
“This was an unpredictable situation, it could happen anywhere at any time,” Mr Ram said. “It’s my first time saving someone’s life.”
The day after the incident, Ms Aishah recalled feeling sore all over and could barely raise her arm after the exhausting CPR.
“When I was younger I was like, ‘Why must I learn CPR? Who am I going to use it on? This dummy is not even a real thing.’ You have this mindset, and then the day comes (when you need it),” she said, urging people to learn CPR.
“When something like that happens, it gives you a sense of purpose. You tell yourself you’ve done it before, you will do it again.”