A moment of helplessness leads to a lifetime in first aid

Eight years ago, Chay Him was a helpless bystander while he watched someone collapse and experience a seizure in front of him. Fortunately, a passerby trained in first aid stepped in to assist the patient. That incident inspired Chay Him to take up first aid training to ensure he would be able to step up and assist others in times of need. Since being trained and certified in first aid at the Singapore Red Cross, Chay Him has volunteered as a first aider at various community and national events, such as the First Aider on Wheels programme at East Coast Park and on board the Medical Transport Service. 

In 2014, Chay Him watched as a stranger collapsed and had a seizure in front of him at a sports event where he was working as a security officer. As the “man in uniform”, everyone around him turned to him and expected him to spring into action and provide assistance. However, as he was not trained in any lifesaving skills then, he felt helpless. Fortunately, a passerby trained in first aid squeezed through the crowd and assisted the patient till the medical team arrived. That incident spurred Chay Him to pick up first aid to ensure that he will be able to step up and assist others in times of need in the future.

Providing First Aid to People in Need

After being trained and certified in first aid at the Singapore Red Cross Academy, Chay Him has been providing first aid coverage at community and national events as a Singapore Red Cross (SRC) volunteer first aider, with SRC's Community FirstAid (CFA) programme. Some of these activities include the First Aider on Wheels (FAOW) service, where SRC first aiders provide first aid services to park-goers at East Coast Park on the weekends and public holidays, ad-hoc event coverage and medical transport services.

Chay Him volunteering with SRCs Community First Aid

“Every incident is different. It is important for first aiders to have a calm mind and be able to adapt and respond to various situations they are presented with when deployed. For example, the way we carry out first aid treatment to a young child versus an adult or a senior citizen may differ, although the injury is exactly the same,” Chay Him explains.

Chay Him recalled the FAOW team receiving a notification to assist some park-goers involved in a collision involving a bicycle and a Personal Mobility Device at East Coast Park in September 2017. Upon arrival at the scene with his fellow FAOW volunteers, they noted that there were three adults and a toddler involved in the incident and required medical attention. Given the scale of the incident, they activated more team resources to provide assistance, while getting fellow park-goers to assist in traffic control prior to the arrival of the SCDF. This was one of Chay Him’s more memorable incidents in his volunteering journey, as he jokingly explains that “you never forget the first time you need to call for an ambulance”.

Over the years, Chay Him’s experiences volunteering as a first aider have provided him with many insights, and he credits his fellow volunteers for this.

“While the aim of the team is to provide first aid treatment to the public, we can also learn a lot through interactions with the public and among fellow volunteers, as each person has a unique background and experience to share,” Chay Him explains as he looks back on his journey as a Community FirstAid volunteer.

Wheeling to Bring Hope 

Chay Him is also involved in SRC's TransportAid programme as a volunteer driver. 

As a volunteer driver, he is trained in handling the SRC’s transport fleet of patient transport vehicles. The TransportAid programme assists the elderly and persons with disabilities to get to their healthcare service, ensuring that they have access to the necessary life-sustaining care and treatment to ensure a better quality of life. 

“As the designated driver, apart from starting our shifts earlier and ending later, there is also the additional responsibility of ensuring the safety of all our passengers at all times,” Chay Him explains. 

Not all trips start or end at a hospital though. Chay Him shared that the various programmes under SRC routinely organise activities to bring beneficiaries to points of attractions as a way of socialising. He recalls one such event where he drove a group of elderly beneficiaries to Sentosa for a day trip, followed by a group lunch at Marina Square before sending them home, tired but happy.

“It was rewarding to witness their joyous interactions and enjoyment throughout the day”, he says. 

“The ability to walk is often taken for granted by many. Without external support, people with mobility challenges are often confined within the four walls of their home, as they cannot easily participate in community activities with their friends or neighbours,” he shares.

His volunteering experience with TransportAid has led him to better appreciate and count his blessings in life.

Ensuring Everyone's Safety

Amid the uncertainty of the COVID-19 situation, Chay Him has been taking extra precautions to protect himself and be aware of his surroundings while volunteering as a TransportAid driver and a Community First Aider. With activities scaled down during the COVID-19 pandemic, he has been taking extra steps to disinfect his vehicle before and after each use thoroughly. These efforts play a part to ensure that his passengers can travel on board his vehicle with the peace of mind knowing that it is a safe environment. 

“Though the safe management measures put in place have made volunteering more challenging, these are important in ensuring the safety and well-being of everyone," he says.

Before COVID-19 restrictions were eased, manpower was cut down to keep in line with safe distancing requirements imposed by the government. 

"With most of our regular events cancelled, many volunteers could not hone their first aid skills and quite a number of active volunteers dropped out entirely,” Chay Him says.

Volunteering Broadens Horizons

Singapore Red Cross Volunteer Chay Him 1

With the easing of pandemic restrictions, volunteering activities are gradually resuming. Today, Chay Him is part of the Community FirstAid Workgroup as a Volunteer Leader, where he continues to provide his expertise in volunteer management, and provide mentorship and guidance to fellow volunteers.

“It is a privilege to volunteer to uplift the lives of those in need in our community. As we give back to society, we can learn new things and gain new experiences. We develop a better understanding and appreciation of the world around us,” says Chay Him.

By Beatrix Koh Xiu Fang, Volunteer
Copyedited by Shayan Amin, Volunteer


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