Saturday, July 15, 2006

We've a Long Way to go

This article was in The New Paper:

Sick woman rushed to ambulance on ground floor. Ugly S'poreans squeeze in and make it stop on their floors
THE NEW PAPER, July 15, 2006

AN elderly woman, 60, collapses in a crowded shopping centre. She is seriously ill and needs to get to the hospital urgently.

Paramedics rush to the scene, place her on a stretcher, and get into a lift to take her downstairs to the ambulance.

But to the horror of the anxious family members, some shoppers refuse to give way. Instead, they decide to squeeze into the lift.

That's not all. They then press the buttons for all the other floors where they want to get off.

That's what Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) paramedic Carolyn Low, 28, encountered recently at an Orchard Road shopping centre when trying to transport an unconscious cancer victim down from the fifth storey.


She said: 'The lift ended up stopping at every floor. One of the relatives was so upset, she shouted at everyone in the lift.'

The incident highlights a new breed of inconsiderate people who think nothing of blocking the work of rescue personnel despite years of public education.

As SCDF personnel attend to more emergency cases in highrise buildings, they recall having brushes with a new breed of ugly Singaporean: The lift-hoggers.

While the SCDF says that most Singaporeans are helpful and considerate toward emergency personnel (see report on facing page), some are just too selfish and insensitive.

Given the serious consequences that could arise from a lift hog's actions, even one delay could be one delay too many.

Ms Low, who has been with the SCDF for seven years, recounted another incident in a HDB block in Serangoon last year.

She was trying to transport a woman in her 70s, who had a heart attack, to the ambulance downstairs.

She was trying to give the woman CPR inside the lift, but that didn't stop some 'uncles and aunties' who 'die die' wanted to squeeze into the lift. Not only did they get in her way, they also delayed the transfer to the hospital.

Mr Muhd Milhan Shah, 23, a medic and NSF, encountered another group of ugly Singaporeans last month.

Together with a paramedic and ambulance driver, they responded to a 995 call at a second storey HDB flat in Toa Payoh just past 7am.

Because the patient, a man in his 20s, was suffering from back pain and had to be immobilised flat on his back, the paramedic and driver had to carry him down the stairs using a special device.

Mr Milhan was left to transport the regular stretcher, the 10kg automated external defibrillator used to shock patients, and a large 'trauma bag' containing medical supplies, by himself.

But when the lift arrived, there were four people already inside.

Said Mr Milhan: 'I asked them, 'Can you let me through, you can use the staircase, it's only the second floor.''

But one women in her 50s said instead: 'No no, I'm late for work.' Then she tried to close the lift door.

Shocked, Mr Milhan pressed the lift door open and asked again - this time stressing that he was with the ambulance service and there was a patient downstairs waiting for him.

But he was turned down again.

In the end, Mr Milhan pushed open the door, and squeezed himself and all the equipment into the lift.

He said wryly: 'They nagged at me a bit, but I just kept quiet.'

Besides lift hoggers, emergency personnel also have to deal with the ubiquitous Singaporean kaypohs.

Said Ms Low: 'Sometimes they crowd around to kaypoh, see what we are doing. But when we need help, like carrying the patient, they don't offer.'

There's also the bochap shoppers: 'We are in shopping centres, trying to get access to the patient. But they don't give way until you shout, 'Excuse me, excuse me!' ' she said.

Singaporeans can also be inconsiderate in indirect ways.

Said Mr Milhan: 'Sometimes when I push the stretcher down the corridor, there are a lot of big vases (flower pots) obstructing our way. Slippers - we can still kick aside. But vases, bicycles, we have to carry aside one by one - especially early in the morning when they (the owners) are still sleeping.'

Anyone who voluntarily obstructs any public servant in the discharge of his public functions can be jailed up to three months, fined up to $500 or both.

Cpt Siti Afzan, assistant director of the SCDF Medical Department (emergency medical service), said: 'During emergencies, our paramedics are trying to assist those in distress and quickly rush them to the hospital. Help from the public, such as giving way to responding ambulances and giving priority to paramedics using the lift, can help us in our life-saving mission.'"

Smile Singapore 2006 indeed.


Anonymous said...

I'm not astonished by those heartless People nowadays. Just sad.
Everything is about "I, me and myself."

Dr Oz bloke said...

As I was reading the article I was wondering when we would get to the section of Fines....and voila!

"Anyone who voluntarily obstructs any public servant in the discharge of his public functions can be jailed up to three months, fined up to $500 or both."

I am sure there are poeple out there who will say "$500 only what! Fine lah!"

Seriously. This is what happens when you live in a city where people do things because it is the law or not do things because there are fines. Not because they want to and know why they should do so!

Singapore is indeed a fine city where the people are brainless and not capable of mature independent thought.


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