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A winning frame of mind: SGT (NSF) Esa Lim Yan

SGT(NSF) Esa Lim Yan shares how he maintains a positive mindset amid the COVID-19 pandemic.


The advent of COVID-19 came as a shock, especially when Singapore was among the first few countries to be gravely impacted by its emergence. Just after Chinese New Year, we were informed that some members of the Special Rescue Unit (SRU) had to be dispatched to Changi Airport for the temperature screening of arriving passengers coming into Singapore.

Regardless, we adopted a positive mindset to approaching the task at hand, which included measuring the temperatures of tourists and returning Singaporeans on arrival and manning thermal-imaging cameras, as well as guiding passengers with high temperatures to the health and travel declaration stations. When more Healthcare Assistant volunteers joined in to help with the temperature screenings, we had the added responsibility of teaching these volunteers about their roles and responsibilities.

My job as a Section Commander also entailed checking on and monitoring the well-being of the men under my charge, ensuring that they were in optimal condition to work. This allowed them to execute their tasks professionally in keeping up the name of the Lifesaving Force.

I make it a point to exercise regularly and keep fit, and continued to do so even when I worked shifts during my airport deployment period. I run and lift weights at home, and do calisthenics workouts at my fire station when I am on duty. I also maintain good health by eating and resting well.


The arduous day and night shifts were unusual and tiring. Having to work for 12 hours straight, then resting for 24 hours, before starting on another 12-hour shift, affected our well-being and sleep cycle. We also hardly had any time for our personal lives. Despite this, my men and I were well aware of the impact our work had on the welfare and security of Singapore. Knowing that the nation is dependent on everyone’s collective effort in overcoming this period of adversity motivated us to commit and push through the stresses.

Our team morale was at its peak, thanks to the hospitality and care provided by the management teams. We were well-equipped with fleece jackets and our stomachs were never empty — we had five meals daily and an unlimited supply of snacks and vitamin C! Additionally, Political Office Holders and Service Chiefs would drop by and interact with us, which really encouraged us. After completing our mission, I felt relieved while at the same time, grateful to be given this opportunity to serve my country.”

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