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Meet the NSman of the Year 2022

Having patiently led a nursing home through an anxiety-fraught pandemic, LTC (NS) Marcus Lee proves that serving the nation is a life-long affair.

TEXT: KEENAN PEREIRA

PHOTOS: LTC (NS) MARCUS LEE

With the transition to DORSCON green, life is gradually returning to normal in Singapore. The wearing of masks on public transport is no longer mandatory. While some may forget just how scary and uncertain the early days of the pandemic were, those who had served on our frontlines would always remember this challenging period.

LTC (NS) Marcus Lee, a full-time Director (Operations) at Thye Hua Kuan (THK) Nursing Home, will never forget the anxiety that came with the pandemic.

“I joined Thye Hua Kuan Nursing Home in June 2021, as I find great meaning in its mission to serve seniors,” explains LTC (NS) Lee, who oversees all facilities and operations within the 285-bed nursing home in Hougang. “I’ve always had a fondness for public service. This role offered that and more.”

LTC (NS) Marcus Lee with colleagues at Thye Hua Kuan (THK) Nursing Home
LTC (NS) Marcus Lee with colleagues at Thye Hua Kuan (THK) Nursing Home
COPING WITH AN EVOLVING THREAT

LTC (NS) Lee’s job became more complex during the pandemic, given the potential panic and anxiety that accompanied the spread of Covid-19 in nursing homes in other countries. “Taking cues from such incidents, we were in our own ‘lockdown’ to minimise the risk of an outbreak here at THK,” recalls the 46-year-old.

The dynamic situation constantly challenged LTC (NS) Lee to consider the worst-case scenarios and draw up contingency plans to mitigate them in advance. He credits his eight-year stint as a career officer in the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) for his strong foundation in contingency planning and emergency preparedness. “I spent my time in the Search and Rescue Battalion (now Special Rescue Unit) and was also seconded to the Ministry of Home Affairs as a staff officer. These postings were instrumental in helping me to strategise for contingencies.”

Despite the constantly-evolving pandemic situation, thinking outside the box was crucial to instilling a sense of normalcy at THK Nursing Home. “We had to be very sensitive to the needs of our residents at all times. We not only have to take care of their physical and health requirements, but also their emotional needs,” says LTC (NS) Lee. Many of the residents had wanted to see their families, but were unable to do so due to the prevailing Covid-19 measures. To get around this problem, LTC (NS) Lee and his team became creative. “We shared roving iPads that allowed the residents to stay digitally connected with their families and loved ones, while minimising their risk from COVID-19,” he recounts.

FACING OMICRON

The stringent precautions had helped THK Nursing Home to remain safe from the virus, until the surge of the Omicron variant in late 2021. “At that time, there was great unease among our staff, as they were concerned about our residents’ welfare,” LTC (NS) Lee explains as he recounted the detection of the first Covid-19 case at THK Nursing Home in October 2021. “At that time, the safety measures required nursing homes to deliver Covid-19 test samples to the laboratory by themselves.”

To allay the concerns of his staff, LTC (NS) Lee volunteered to ferry the samples in his own car. “Of course, I was nervous about how it might affect my family, including my parents,” he shares. “But I had to lead the team by example.” In addition,  LTC (NS) Lee also ensured strict adherence to the infection control measures, such as the donning of personal protective equipment (PPE) and thoroughly disinfecting his car after the journey. He adds, “In situations like this, your team looks to you for guidance and above all, leadership.”

In recognition of his efforts to combat the pandemic, LTC (NS) Lee was awarded the Public Service Medal (COVID-19) 2022. He will also be named the Home Team NSman of the Year at the SCDF Appreciation Dinner in April 2023, to commend his commitment to serving the nation. To LTC (NS) Lee, leadership requires a “people first” philosophy when working with his colleagues. “One important thing that SCDF taught me is this — if you build strong  bonds with your team, you will be able to overcome any challenge together.”

Heroes among us

Introduced in 2007, the Home Team NSman of the Year Award accords greater recognition to Home Team NSmen for their contributions and achievements towards NS. The award ceremony for the Home Team NSman of the Year 2022 Award will take place on 14 April 2023 at the Istana.

Like our stories? Subscribe to our Frontline Digital newsletters now! Simply download the HomeTeamNS Mobile App and update your communication preference to ‘Receive Digital Frontline Magazine’, through the App Settings.

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Featured In The Force

The valuable lessons these Home Team volunteers have learned by helping others

These Home Team volunteers share why helping others and paying it forward matters to them.

TEXT AND PHOTOS: HOME TEAM VOLUNTEER NETWORK

The Home Team Volunteer Network interviewed three volunteers as they share their love for volunteering and giving back to the community, from safeguarding Singapore to learning life-saving skills to helping former inmates.

TENG JIA HAN, CADET INSPECTOR, NATIONAL POLICE CADET CORPS

As a Cadet Inspector who mentors NPCC cadets, Jia Han believes that the friendships made and experiences shared has helped him become a better person. Through his interactions with fellow volunteers and youth, he has also learnt many important life lessons.

“I have learnt so much from volunteering, even more than I have contributed,” he said.

Jia Han will continue to volunteer as an NPCC Cadet Inspector, saying: “Volunteering gives me the opportunity to share my knowledge and life experiences with younger cadets.”

MARIA MOHAMMAD, BEFRIENDER, SINGAPORE PRISON SERVICE

Counselling and inspiring former inmates is a key part of Maria Mohammad’s role. She said: “The people that I have helped are also resilient, going against all odds and keeping strong through thick and thin.”

Not only does she inspire former inmates, but Maria also learns from the people she meets. She said: “They motivate me to spread love amongst others and always be positive in every situation.”

LOH PEI YI, NTU CIVIL DEFENCE LIONHEARTER

For Pei Yi, it is a privilege to be a Civil Defence Lionhearter (CDLH). “I love being a CDLH! It is a privilege imparting life-saving skills to members of the public who come from all walks of life.”

She also enjoys the sense of camaraderie. Pei Yi said: “My team had to work out creative ways to engage our CDLH members and public during the pandemic, like crafting our very own Civil Defence-themed virtual games.”

Her volunteering journey not only helps her develop as a person, but also learn from others. As such, her love for her community makes her determined to do her best to help build a nation of lifesavers and make Civil Defence relevant to the NTU fraternity.

Find out more how you can make a difference in your communityJoin the Home Team volunteers today!

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Close Up Featured

A baptism of fire for this Home Team NSF, literally

SCDF NSF SGT1 Jovian Ng has always held an affinity the Home Team, from his stint in the NPCC to his current role fighting fires with the SCDF.

TEXT: KEENAN PEREIRA

PHOTOS: SGT1 JOVIAN NG

SGT1 Jovian Ng isn’t likely to forget the incident on 6 December 2022, anytime soon. After their morning drills at the Brani Marine Fire Station, his unit was called to put out an engine fire on a vessel in Singapore’s southern waters. It was a staggering mission that took the team two-and-a-half hours to complete.

“It was the first time I had helped to put out a fire,” says SGT1 Ng, who supported the operations as a member of the feeding team that provided hoses to a unit manoeuvring the nozzle.

Days like this are strenuous to say the least – their shift doesn’t end immediately after a blaze is contained. In fact, it continues until the end of the 24-hour shift. Not that he’s one to grouse. “It’s something we do to keep our country safe and I’m glad I have the chance to help.”

AN AFFINITY FOR THE HOME TEAM

SGT1 Ng, who enlisted in July 2021, has always held an affinity for his current role in the Home Team. He had joined the National Police Cadet Corps (NPCC) as a Co-Curricular Activity (CCA) in secondary school, and had initially hoped for a posting at the Singapore Police Force (SPF) during his National Service (NS) days. But he was equally pleased to be accepted by the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) instead. “Either way, we’re making a difference to the country,” he says.

The born leader credits his time at NPCC and later, his polytechnic student group, for shaping his career path. These experiences led him to SCDF, where he is an NSF Section Commander and a Navigation Specialist. In the latter role, he is responsible for assisting and operating the navigational equipment aboard firefighting vessels.

Because of his natural leadership abilities, SGT1 Ng was selected as part of the first batch of NSFs who attended the Port Limit Steersman Course. The course equips participants with the knowledge and practical skills to steer marine vessels through various ports. With this certification, SGT1 Ng can go on to work in the marine sector, although he tells Frontline that he has no current plans to pursue this option. “After I (reach my) ORD (Operationally Ready Date), I’ll be heading to Canada to study finance and economics,” he shares.

PEOPLE SKILLS MATTER TOO

SGT1 Ng is an avid runner who used to compete in the 400m, 800m and 1,500m events as a student.

But it’s not just marine and firefighting skills that SGT1 Ng will take away from his NS stint. He believes that his time in service has also honed his people skills, specifically through his appointment as an NSF peer support leader who oversaw the wellbeing of his peers. Furthermore, the 22-year-old has grasped several important principles related to leadership. For example, he says he understands that different personality types are partial to varied leadership styles. “So it’s important to learn how each person works instead of just commanding them straight away,” he adds. Such lessons were gleaned through spending time with his charges, from physical fitness activities to more social interactions.

An avid runner, SGT1 Ng particularly enjoys opportunities to bond with his men through fitness activities. “There’s something about a run that builds a bond with a leader and his men, as you feel like you’re all doing something together as equals,” explains the former track and field school team member. “My events were the 400m, 800m and 1,500m races,” he recounts, adding that he continues to run leisurely every week.

Like our stories? Subscribe to our Frontline Digital newsletters now! Simply download the HomeTeamNS Mobile App, and update your communication preference to ‘Receive Digital Frontline Magazine’, through the App Settings.

FIGHTING FIRES AT SEA

It has been 10 years since SCDF assumed marine firefighting duties from the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore. The Force has led numerous enhancements since then, including the introduction of state-of-the-art fireboats and the construction of new marine fire stations.

The fire SGT1 Ng and his teammates fought is by no means the first time the SCDF has been called to fight maritime fires. Looking back on 30 May 2022, the SCDF was called into action when a boat that was docked at Marina at Keppel Bay caught fire. The fire was extinguished after about one hour with assistance from a water monitor from the Maritime Port Authority.

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Featured In The Force

When lifesaving meets caregiving

SCDF ORNSmen and their community partners spent a meaningful day giving back to seniors at the Thye Hua Kwan Senior Care Centre at Kaki Bukit.

TEXT AND PHOTOS: SCDF

On 25 October 2022, the Civil Resources Unit (CRU) under Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF)’s Logistics Department, partnered with Thye Hua Kwan Senior Care Centre at Kaki Bukit (THKSCC) to organise a charity event based on the theme “When Lifesaving Meets Caregiving”. The SCDF Operational Ready National Servicemen (ORNSmen) from CRU HQ, Bravo Company, served as SCDF’s charity ambassadors and passionately contributed to the event’s success.

Assistant Commissioner (AC) Wesley Ho, Director of Logistics Department and his team of officers also volunteered at the event, which commenced with the SCDF ORNSmen giving special trishaw rides to the THKSCC seniors around the Kaki Bukit neighbourhood. The trishaw was provided by Cycling Without Age (CWA), a registered charity that runs innovative programmes to engage and empower seniors to live out their best years in active settings.

A NOSTALGIC RIDE

MAJ (NS) New Wee Beng offering THKSCC seniors a ride on a trishaw around the neighbourhood.

The THKSCC seniors enjoyed the lush greenery and company of the SCDF ORNSmen, who took time outside their In-Camp Training, learning how to handle a trishaw and act as safety marshals during the event. 

“It is a great opportunity for SCDF to partner THKSCC and engage the seniors in this meaningful charity event,” said LTC (NS) Marcus Lee, Commander CRU. “The trishaw was a common mode of transport back in the days when the seniors were much younger. By having the seniors ride the trishaw, we hope this could bring back some fond memories for them.”

SCDF CRU ORNSmen helping out with the trishaw ride.

Apart from SCDF, other community partners such as The Food Bank SG and FILOS Community Services Ltd donated food and daily necessities which were packed into “care” packs. These care packs were distributed by SCDF ORNSmen to the households of 55 THKSCC seniors, as well as those seniors who attended the charity event. 

SCDF CRU ORNSmen helping to distribute care packs.

 Last but not least, a team of ORNSmen befriended the seniors at the care centre to engage and connect with them on a deeper and personal level. The seniors warmed up quickly to the ORNSmen, with some even sharing their cherished life stories and experiences.

“As we work towards building A Nation of Lifesavers, it is important that we take time to remember the seniors as well as the less fortunate in the community and do what we can as an organisation to help improve lives apart from our core duties of emergency response,” said MAJ (NS) New Wee Beng, Deputy Commander CRU.

SPARKING NEW PASSIONS

SCDF ORNSmen and their community partners.

For many of the ORNSmen and NSFs, it was their first time volunteering, and it sparked their interest to explore more opportunities in the future.  

“Besides performing our duty of protecting and saving lives and property at the frontlines, this charity event allows me to engage and contribute to the community in a new way. It is something refreshing and adds to the meaningfulness of being called back for In-Camp Training to serve with the Lifesaving Force,” said SGT (NS) Syed Ali Bin Syed Abdul Rahman.

“Interacting with the elderlies helped me to understand them better and appreciate the challenges that they may face each day. It was indeed a rewarding experience for me and other NSFs as we brought smiles to the elderlies and helped make their day a joyful one,” said Lance Corporal (NSF) Jeremy Lai.

The SCDF would like to thank THKSCC and its community partners for helping to make this meaningful charity event a success!

Like our stories? Subscribe to our Frontline Digital newsletters now! Simply download the HomeTeamNS Mobile App, and update your communication preference to ‘Receive Digital Frontline Magazine’, through the App Settings.

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Club Buzz Family Time

Climb, conquer and enjoy an enhanced digital experience at Action Motion

Experience physical entertainment at Singapore’s first-ever gamified multi-tier obstacle course, located in HomeTeamNS Bedok Reservoir.

TEXT: MORGAN AWYONG
PHOTOS: HOMETEAMNS

If you are someone who spends most of the day seated at your job, finding the motivation to get active is always a challenge. But if there are two things that usually do the trick, we’d say it’s the promise of some friendly competition combined with a hearty dose of fun. So, when the invitation came to try the new Action Motion at the launch of HomeTeamNS’ newest clubhouse at Bedok Reservoir, it was easy for me to say yes and jump right in!

SCORE ONE FOR THE TEAM

The giant space that is Action Motion is unmissable as one enters the Bedok Reservoir clubhouse lobby. Set to the right of the entrance, the sprawling grounds are home to five different experiences that cater to players of all inclinations.

The largest of these is the Rapid Action obstacle course, Singapore’s first score tabulation gamified obstacle course. As players work their way through the course elements, they tap their RFID wrist tags at various recording stations. This tracks their progress and displays their times on a public screen. For groups, this can spur some epic competition. As a solo player, I pitted myself against the day’s scores, or attempted to set personal bests.

My first challenge at Rapid Action were three motorised and five static elements in a U-shaped route. After understanding how the gamified system worked, I launched myself into the giant playground, hoping my limbs would cooperate. Sure, the course offers easier ways to negotiate certain elements, but where’s the fun in that? I got a good workout navigating the first course, with spinning rods and hoops testing my timing, and unexpected stubs jutting out to delay my way across a wall. And if you miss, worry not — your fall is cushioned by ball pits. I found that the array of elements nicely balanced the need for agility, hand-eye coordination, balance and strength, and this deskbound noob actually breezed through the courses with decent scores.

The easier options makes the course more accessible to a wider age range, while alternative choices at certain junctions offer opportunities for repeated play. The advanced stage, though, was literally on another level. There were similarly eight elements there, with a safety net below, but finessing them required a lot more skill. For instance, one element contained ropes dangling like vines that would have you swinging like Tarzan, and another that looked like giant slices of Swiss cheese that you need to hook yourself through.

AUGMENTED PLAY

Tapping once again on technology, I headed for some augmented reality fun at Valo Climb and Valo Jump. Valo Jump is housed in a netted platform with a large bouncing mat. Camera sensors detected and monitored my jumps, and were linked to the movements of my avatar on the giant screen. I first picked out one of the five different augmented environments that corresponded to different difficulty levels (I was a bit winded so I chose the easiest). What emerged was an animated canyon setting where I had to bounce on a bridge to knock off birds and fishes to gain points, while an octopus tried to hold me down on the screen.

The engaging visual nature of the games made this suitable for all ages and it also distracted from how much of a workout one gets while playing. Players can share their emails to receive a copy of their gameplay video.

Valo Climb takes place on two bouldering walls, which can be adjusted to different heights and difficulty levels. Using precise motion sensors, players can attempt various augmented reality challenges that are projected onto the walls. My challenge required me to whack out bats from a forest. Despite the limited wall space, there was still plenty of room to clamber across. The nearby seats made this especially good for groups as spectators could cheer on their favourite players.

SCALE UP YOUR CHALLENGE

For rock climbers, the Ascend Lab is your go-to station. It offers 10 lanes of varying difficulty, with two black courses as the most difficult options. Ascend Lab also includes automated belay systems, which means solo climbers can enjoy sessions to their heart’s content, especially since the courses are refreshed twice a month.

For those new to rock-climbing, on-site briefings allow anyone to enjoy the routes. Again, I picked the easier yellow route, and had a great time figuring out the ways I could move up the wall. Because this was not timed in any way, I also felt this installation was more evenly-paced and less competitive, which had its appeal.

Motion Mesh had a similar vibe, as the netted cube was a rope maze that was similar to a playground. I had to climb up a tunnel to the second tier and then make my way down to the lower ball pit. While ideal for children who love to explore, I was told that adult teams have enjoyed using it as a quirky meeting venue, or turned into a small course for bonding events.

VISITING ACTION MOTION

After attempting all five experiences at Action Motion, my body was feeling worse for wear – although I was grinning throughout. By adding so many elements of play into the games here, I had a solid workout that was also plenty of fun. With its wide array of customisable features for all body types, Action Motion also ensures that players of all ages can enjoy their facilities.

Tickets to Action Motion start from S$35 for HomeTeamNS members (Tuesdays to Fridays) and include savings of up to S$10 when you come as a group of four during weekends, public holidays and their eves, and school holidays.

For safety purposes, guests are required to be taller than 125cm and lighter than 120kg. Children under 12 years old have to be supervised by their guardians. The high-grip Action Motion socks are compulsory and cost S$4 a pair, but free socks will be given to all participants during the first three months of their official opening (until March 15).

When booking, pick out the time slots you prefer, and enjoy free play within the allotted session (2.5 hours on weekdays and 3 hours on weekends). I suggest timing it with a relaxing soak in the clubhouse’s waterfront infinity pool right after, or having a meal at one of the many eateries. Action Motion also includes event room usage – ideal for parties or corporate bonding sessions.

Unplug yourself for a day and find fitness and play at the new Action Motion located at HomeTeamNS Bedok Reservoir.

Like our stories? Subscribe to our Frontline Digital newsletters now! Simply download the HomeTeamNS Mobile App and update your communication preference to ‘Receive Digital Frontline Magazine’, through the app settings.

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