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In The Force

A passion for life that never burns out

Meet SGT1 (V) Sam Martinez, a Civil Defence Auxiliary Unit (CDAU) volunteer firefighter who has somehow cracked the code to a life well-lived.

TEXT: HTVN

PHOTOS: SGT1 (V) SAM MARTINEZ, NICOLE TAN

One can only dream of living as vibrantly as SGT1 (V) Sam Martinez, who is a volunteer Firefighter under the Civil Defence Auxiliary Unit (CDAU) in the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF). Amid his busy career and volunteer role, SGT1 (V) Sam has somehow cracked the code to living life – he works and volunteers while enjoying several exciting hobbies – like freediving and motorcycle riding, to name a few.

FIRST DATE – FREEDIVING

A first encounter with freediving turned into love at first sight for SGT1 (V) Sam. He had been enchanted by the watersport when he first came across it on YouTube in 2019. Ever since then, his love story — like most others — truly began when he acted on it.

SGT1 (V) Sam said: “I saw a video of two freedivers in the turquoise waters. The elegance and serenity of it immediately struck a chord. My first introduction to the sport was in the pool at Our Tampines Hub. That first lesson had students do little more than breathing exercises and a static breath-hold.” When asked to elaborate, he explained: “You can think of it as floating face down while holding onto the pool edge breath-hold.” As he recounted the memory, his eyes lit up with joy and with an awestruck smile on his face, he continued: “And… I loved it.”

The pandemic had nothing on him: it may have forced him to pause, but he emerged with a certificate for the watersport in Yucatan, Mexico early this year!

RIDING WITHOUT A CARE IN THE WORLD

SGT1 (V) Sam is also a motorcycle rider. His love for motorcycling stemmed from the sport’s carefree nature. He experienced this freedom himself when he rode his motorcycle in northern Thailand and the region’s popular Mae Hong Son loop in February 2020.

When asked what he liked best about motorcycling, he elaborates: “There is something incredibly liberating about riding up and down twisting mountain roads without a care in the world. Passing through villages, stopping by roadside stalls on chilly mornings for a steaming cup of coffee. Good memories, guaranteed!”

TOUCHING HEARTS

SGT1 (V) Sam (front row, far right) with his CDAU colleagues after a training session at the Civil Defence Academy in 2020.

SGT1 (V) Sam’s athletic skills aren’t just for play, but to help others too. He receives training for Firefighting, Search and Rescue, Hazmat and First Aid from the CDAU Firefighting and Rescue Vocation. While excelling in just about anything he sets his mind to, SGT1 (V) Sam remains grounded and humble.

For him, the openness and professionalism of the Central Fire Station frontliners made his work there memorable. He appreciates their patience and dedication in explaining routine procedures and the use of equipment. As SGT1 (V) Sam aptly sums up: “The people make all the difference.”

He also touches people’s hearts through his volunteer work. When asked if he has any words of encouragement for interested parties to volunteer for HTVN, SGT1 (V) Sam says: “I’ll borrow the slogan from a well-known sports brand for this one — Just Do It! Life is good, so let’s give something back to society.”

Find out more how you can make a difference in your community. Volunteer with the Home Team Volunteer Network today!

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In The Force

Developing a firm foundation in rescue work

Meet Lieutenant (LTA) Wang Mingkang, a Rescue Engineer for the 41 Rescue Unit in the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), whose role is to reduce the risks of potential structural failures.

TEXT AND PHOTOS: SCDF

As a Rescue Engineer, LTA Mingkang understands the anatomy of buildings and structures, as well as their typical collapse patterns and structural behaviours under adverse loading.

The 28-year-old’s expertise enables him to develop mitigation plans, as well as monitor and assess buildings’ structural support to ensure their stability.

ALWAYS LEARNING

LTA Mingkang conducting research into the behaviour of concrete structures under different loading conditions.

To dive deeper into his role, LTA Mingkang attended a one-week Rescue Engineer Course and immersed himself in the lesson on Urban Search and Rescue (USAR). Deployed to a simulated disaster area with collapsed structures, he learnt the basics of building shores to ensure the safety of rescuers while saving casualties.

“Rescue engineers have a heavy responsibility to ensure a safe environment before giving the green approval to conduct search and rescue in a structure that is prone to collapse further,” he shared.

The course also equipped rescuers with knowledge on how to effectively liaise with other rescue teams from different countries, through the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG)’s communication systems.

ABOVE AND BEYOND HIS DUTY TO SERVE

Besides carrying out the role of a Rescue Engineer in SCDF, LTA Mingkang also works as a Research Engineer at the National University of Singapore (NUS), where he conducts research relating to structural collapse using experiments and numerical simulations.

LTA Mingkang is a firm believer in lifelong learning as seen from his Civil Engineering PhD candidature at NUS. He provides support in a research collaboration project between NUS’ Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and HTX’s Protective Security and Safety Centre of Expertise, involving the design and assessment of precast concrete-framed structures against disproportionate collapse.

FULL SUPPORT

LTA Mingkang and his team of rescuers after constructing a Class 3 Vertical Laced Post Shore.

The Class 3 Vertical Laced Post Shore is one of the strongest shoring systems that provides temporary support in stabilising collapsed structures and can carry up to a maximum load of 36,000 kilograms. To ensure the safety of rescuers during search-and-rescue operations involving collapsed structures, the Class 3 Vertical Laced Post Shore must be accurately and quickly assembled – which LTA Mingkang and his team of rescuers are able to do so within half an hour.

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In The Force

NS55: Different eras, same undertaking

In celebration of NS55, a father-in-law and son-in-law duo share their National Service experiences.

TEXT: MHA

PHOTO: JEREMY LIM

Full-time National Service (NS) is an essential part of our nationhood and a rite of passage for every Singaporean son. While the NS landscape may have evolved over the decades, the experience each enlistee goes through is unforgettable and one that is shared from generation to generation.

Father-in-law and son duo, Neo Thiam Loon, 67, and Volunteer Special Constabulary (VSC) officer, Sgt 3 (V) Lim Jun Wei Jeremy, 34, can attest to this. Both have served their NS with unwavering dedication, pride and strength to keep Singapore safe and peaceful. And both have stories to tell.

KEEPING OUR STREETS SAFE

Mr Lim served with the Singapore Police Force (SPF) as a frontline Ground Response Force (GRF) officer. As he was deployed to Choa Chu Kang Neighbourhood Police Centre (NPC), his duties include patrolling the neighbourhood and responding to incidents and disputes.

“Serving NS with the SPF was an eye-opening experience and, I dare say, one of the most defining moments of my life,” says the VSC officer. “I remember a mother who called the Police for assistance when her son went missing. We were activated to search for the boy and within a few hours, we found him and returned him home. It was really heartening to see the family reunited,” he adds.

EVOLVING WITH THE TIMES

From the days of tougher training regimes and stricter commanders to lengthy queues at the payphone to make calls home, NS has evolved with advancements in technology, better welfare and a changing threat environment.

On the technological front, Mr Lim points out that his law-enforcing duties have been made easier with devices such as body-worn cameras and neighbourhood police cameras that improve the effectiveness and efficiency of policing. On the other hand, frontline officers face greater public scrutiny when carrying out their roles, as social media is now a significant part of our daily lives.

Mr Neo, who served his NS in 1978, was free from such concerns but his cohort faced a different set of challenges. “Basic Military Training (BMT) was very different from what we see on television today. It was ‘tough love’ as some may call it, but conditions have changed. And a different generation of crimes and offenses warrants a different kind of training,” says the NS pioneer, who served as a Lance Corporal Regimental Police with the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).

Mr Neo also recalls queueing up for the orange payphone to make calls to his family during his recruit days. “You cannot drop in another 10 cents to extend your call as there are many others waiting in line behind you,” he says.

Compared to the ’70s, Mr Neo agrees that servicemen now enjoy better accommodation, food and monthly allowance, as well as have caring commanders who spend time getting to know the recruits under their charge. But when it comes to sacrifice, resilience, pride and first-time experiences, there is little difference across generations. “The most memorable part of NS would be the experience of firing a rifle at the live firing range. Not forgetting all those days in the jungle for field training and surviving them without showering for numerous days,” says Mr Neo.

CARRY ON SERVING

As an Operationally Ready NSman, Mr Lim serves as a Police Contact Tactics (PCT) Adjunct Trainer with the Jurong Police Division, as well as volunteering with the VSC under the Traffic Police. He believes his NS stint has taught him important values that have shaped him and encouraged him to continue serving the nation through volunteering.

“NS taught me three main values – responsibility (having a great sense of pride and duty to serve the nation), resilience (staying optimistic through hard times) and reinstatement (restoring peace to the public so that everyone can live in a better environment),” says Mr Lim.

In response to his son-in-law’s role as a Home Team volunteer, Mr Neo says: “I am very proud and supportive of Jeremy’s decision to be part of the Home Team Volunteer Network (HTVN). As a Home Team volunteer, he demonstrates his servant leadership by going above and beyond the call of duty.”

Mr Lim encourages everyone to do likewise – to make a difference and contribute back to society.

Find out more how you can make a difference in your community. Volunteer with the Home Team Volunteer Network today!

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Featured In The Force

NS55: Celebrating a 40-year bond and an even bigger brotherhood

As Singapore celebrates NS55, we drop in on the 40th anniversary reunion of the 7th batch of officer cadet trainees from the Singapore Police Force.

TEXT: BENEDICT THAM
PHOTOS: HOMETEAMNS

In 2007, the 7th batch of Officer Cadet Trainees from the Singapore Police Force (SPF), gathered to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their National Service enlistment. Since then, this group has been organising reunions every 5 years. The easing of safe-distancing measures enabled them to celebrate their 40th anniversary reunion recently at the HomeTeamNS Bukit Batok Clubhouse.

As Singapore celebrates NS55, we gatecrashed their reunion to find out what National Service means to them and why they still keep in touch.

RUNNING BEFORE DAWN

The reunion kicked off with several NSmen sharing fond memories of their Officer Cadet Training (OCT) course like their pre-dawn runs.

“Our commander, Sri Kanthan, instilled a lot of fitness and discipline in us. We used to go for runs before sunrise, and he’d lead us. We would run around behind the Old Police Academy and we would all run in our various squads. Oh, it seemed like a never-ending run! You didn’t know when the run would end. Once it did, you’d feel very tired, but also very good!” shared Mr Richard Koh, 60. Mr Koh was one of the reunion organisers.

FORGING UNBREAKABLE BONDS

From left: Mr Gerald Chew and Richard Koh were members of the reunion organising committee.

Over lunch, the NSmen listened to more speeches and watched video presentations by those who were unable to attend, and caught up with one another. Mr Gerald Paul Chew Cheng Huan, 58, who was also part of the organising committee for this year’s reunion, elaborated more on the unbreakable camaraderie forged amongst the ex-trainees.

“We bonded, not only within our own squad, but also between each squad (the trainees were grouped into four squads). We knew what everyone else was doing and tried to help each other. Even during our operational roles (when we were posted out), we would still call each other for advice on handling cases.”

STAYING IN TOUCH, OVER A VARIETY OF CHANNELS

Mr Chew added on with how the ex-trainees kept in touch with one another after their NS stint. “The collective experience forged in the early years of NS bonded us and helped us to stay in touch even throughout university and reservist life. In addition to WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram and individual calls, we continue to find more creative ways to stay in touch.”

After celebrating their 25th anniversary in 2007, the ex-trainees set up a WhatsApp group and even invited their previous instructors to join. They still congratulate each other on their birthdays, job promotions and other life milestones. Their former commander, Sri Kanthan, who is in his 70s now, continues to inspire his ex-trainees. He sends the group inspirational messages every morning in addition to maintaining his overall fitness.

CELEBRATING AN EVEN BIGGER ANNIVERSARY

Mr Yap Shao Peng, Assistant Commissioner of the SPF, found this year’s reunion to be a “happy and touching affair”.

As the 7th Batch of Officer Cadet Trainees gathered for their 40th anniversary of NS, Mr Yap Shao Peng, Assistant Commissioner of the SPF, who makes it a personal goal to attend every reunion found this year’s reunion a “happy and touching affair”. As their reunion coincided with the celebration of NS55, Mr Yap also explained how such cohesion events improved the morale of NSmen.

“NS55 is about acknowledging NS, the contributions of NSFs and NSmen to Singapore. Us getting together today, and other cohesion events, helps to reinforce the notion that NS is an essential institution in Singapore; the fact that we can gather after so many years shows that we cherish NS. NS lives on through these reunions!” he said.

Categories
In The Force

TransCom: Keeping the public safe on the move

From assisting vulnerable elderly to using high-tech methods to catch criminals, the Public Transport Security Command ensures the safety of Singapore’s public transport network.

TEXT: MELODY TAN

IMAGES: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE

Every day, there are over five million rides taken on MRT trains or buses, as people travel between work, school, home and play.

As public transport users in Singapore, we are used to high bus frequencies, convenient sheltered linkways, clean buses and MRT cabins. We are also used to safety: Many commuters are familiar with the sight of officers from the Public Transport Security Command (TransCom) patrolling our transport nodes such as the MRT stations and bus interchanges.

What commuters may not know is that besides daily patrols to deter and detect crime, TransCom officers are trained to deal with a range of cases in their line of duty, which includes responding and managing security incidents in the public land transport system, as well as non-security related incidents such as assisting persons in distress.  

CARING FOR THE COMMUNITY

Earlier this year, on 2 January, four TransCom officers responded to a call for assistance at Tampines West MRT station.

An elderly man with dementia had been found – but with no identification on him, it would be close to impossible to help him return home. This is not an uncommon occurrence: According to the Agency for Integrated Care, on average, eight elderly people with dementia go missing every month in Singapore, with many of them being discovered at bus interchanges or MRT stations.

SC/CPL Audi Prasanto, SC/SGT Muhammad Shaheed Alam, SC/CPL Mohamed Hamza Al Waqar and SC/SGT Hamdan Afiq tried to engage the elderly man but he was wary of them. The officers were patient when engaging him and even played simple games with him to gain his trust.

The elderly man eventually opened up to the officers and shared his personal particulars. The information provided by the man enabled the officers to reunite him with his family, who were happy to see their loved one safe and sound at home again. In this case, the officers showed empathy, professionalism and care while fulfilling their job to reunite the elderly man with his family.

At TransCom, 80 percent of the officers are full-time Police National Serviceman (PNSF). Majority of them are deployed to conduct deterrence patrols to protect Singapore’s land transport system against crime and terrorism. They are trained to work closely with public transport operators to manage and diffuse any security threats that might surface during emergencies.

ON THE CUTTING EDGE OF CRIME

In addition to basic policing skills such as criminal law and police powers, TransCom officers receive training in public transport security to prepare them for the unique operating terrain. Those with leadership potential, are groomed and entrusted to be Group Leaders (GLs) where they are given the opportunities to lead, conduct ambush operations to catch suspects of crime and manage incidents like any regular officers. They are also equipped with other non-lethal equipment such as the Taser.

TransCom leverages technology such as CCTVs and data analytics to enhance our policing efforts in solving crime. On the evening of 10 February this year, the police were alerted to a case of voyeurism on a train heading towards Pasir Panjang MRT station, where a man had allegedly taken upskirt photos and videos of a female commuter.

While CCTV has been around for a while, newer technologies such as data analytics can serve to greatly enhance policing efforts in solving crime. Piecing together evidence from CCTV images and data mining, TransCom officers were able to establish the identity of the man and arrested him within 12 hours of the report.

With the public transport network expanding progressively in the coming years, TransCom continue to evolve their operations and work closely with partners and community to strengthen police presence in our transport network and raise the security awareness of the community.

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Featured In The Force

Lifesavers flying the flag at the Hanoi SEA Games

Two Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) NSFs who are also national athletes share how they achieved sporting glory.

TEXT AND PHOTOS: SCDF

Say hello to Corporal (NSF) Noah Lim Tian Run and Lance Corporal (NSF) Muhammad Syakir Bin Jeffry, two SCDF Full-time National Servicemen (NSFs) who recently participated in the 31st Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Hanoi, Vietnam.

CPL Noah, an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) from Alexandra Fire Station, clinched the gold medal in Jiu-Jitsu, while LCP Muhammad Syakir, a firefighter from Tuas Fire Station, brought home the joint-bronze medal in Pencak Silat for Team Singapore. They share their experiences balancing life serving National Service (NS) with being national athletes.

TRAINING SMARTER, FIGHTING HARDER

CPL (NSF) Noah (left) competing against his opponent from the Philippines.

What is Jiu Jitsu? What is its main objective?

CPL Noah: A Jiu-Jitsu match is fought between two opponents and the main objective of the martial art is to make your opponent tap out using submission holds such as arm locks, leg locks and chokes. There are various types of submission locks in Jiu-Jitsu. Every submission lock must be precisely carried so your opponent does not have a chance to escape. Jiu Jitsu is not an easy martial art to master.

How long have you been practicing Jiu Jitsu and what attracted you to this martial art?

CPL Noah: I have been practicing Jiu-Jitsu for about six years. Prior to this, I was a competitive swimmer. My elder brother was already learning Jiu-Jitsu then and he would practice his submission moves on me at home [laughs].

I became fascinated by the different types of submission moves that one could master in Jiu-Jitsu. That was how I got into the martial art and dedicated myself to it.

How do you feel having won the gold medal for Singapore?

CPL Noah: I did not expect to do well in this sport, as I was up against several strong opponents in the competition. Moreover, I was unable to train as often as before after my National Service (NS) enlistment. My brother, who was more experienced than me in Jiu-Jitsu, competed in the same category and clinched a bronze medal. Knowing this and the challenges involved, I placed a lot of pressure on myself to make Singapore proud.

Were there any challenges faced during the competition?

CPL Noah: Yes, definitely! My opponents were all very strong. During my first match, I used a technique which I was confident would work against my opponent. However, he was the same size as me and physically stronger. I managed to wear him out later in the match and emerged victorious.

What is your training regime like for Jiu Jitsu after you enlisted to serve NS?

CPL Noah: Before I enlisted for NS, I would usually train three times a day for about two hours each session. I currently train during my days off. As an athlete, the key to doing well in your sport is consistency and self-discipline. This may sound simple, but with all the distractions around us, one can find it hard to stay focused. This is when we must fall back on the reason we got into the sport and what we want to achieve at the end of the day.

In what way does your involvement in Jiu Jitsu positively impact the work you are doing in SCDF as a NSF?

CPL Noah: Jiu-Jitsu helps me stay calm under pressure. This helps me strategise my moves to overcome my opponent. Likewise, in my work as an EMT, I have worked under immense pressure during emergencies where there is a need for physical and mental fitness, and most of what we do is closely scrutinised by the public. The ability to keep my composure during a stressful situation allows me to make good judgment calls to save a person’s life.

What do you plan to do after NS?

CPL Noah: I will be enrolling myself in Medical School. This would most likely affect my training schedule. I want to use the time I have now to compete in as many matches as I can before moving on to the next chapter in my life.

OVERCOMING INJURY FOR THE PRIZE

LCP Muhammad Syakir Bin Jeffry didn't let injury stop him from bagging the bronze medal at the Hanoi SEA Games.

What is Pencak Silat? What is its main objective?

LCP Muhammad Syakir: Pencak Silat is a martial art that originated in Indonesia. It involves the use of strikes, throws and grappling techniques to overcome your opponent. In general, there are two types of Silat. The competitive type, which is Pencak Silat, and Seni Silat, a form of performance art.

How do you feel about your recent SEA Games medal?

LCP (NSF) Muhammad Syakir (black and red sparring vest) in a match against his opponent from Thailand.

LCP Muhammad Syakir: This is this first SEA Games I had participated in, and it was definitely an eventful competition. About 10 weeks before the competition, I tore my left Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) and my doctor advised me to refrain from competing in the SEA Games. I insisted and till the day of competition, I focused on my physiotherapy sessions to get myself back in shape. It was not until a week before the SEA Games that I could finally execute kicks and run normally.

During the semi-finals, I was competing against a Thai exponent. The Thais are one of the strongest in the region and I could feel the pressure building up within me, especially when I knew I had not fully recovered. I said to myself: “I have come this far, there is no turning back. I just have to give 100 per cent in this competition”.

I managed to overcome my opponents until the match against Indonesia, which was a close fight. Even though I lost, my coach commended my determination even though I was not in peak physical condition. His encouragement meant a lot to me.

How do you juggle your time between training for Silat and your work as a firefighter?

LCP Muhammad Syakir: Before my enlistment, I used to train five days a week, from Monday to Friday, twice per day. During my off-duty days in NS, I would hit the gym at my fire station to build my physical strength. As I have been practising Pencak Silat for 10 years, firefighting to me, is not physically demanding but a form of daily exercise to maintain my physical condition to compete in Pencak Silat.

What are your future plans?

LCP Muhammad Syakir: I have just gone for my surgery, and henceforth, will focus on my recovery. Once I have fully recovered, I aim to compete in next year’s SEA Games in Cambodia.

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In The Force

From NS to volunteerism: Continuing to serve our nation

Two of the Home Team volunteers have chosen to play a bigger role in the Home Team after completing their NS stints. Here’s why.

TEXT AND PHOTOS: Home Team Volunteer Network (HTVN)

Serving National Service (NS) under the Singapore Police Force (SPF) is a valuable opportunity for many, but would one consider serving outside of NS? Mr Muhammad Azim Bin Hamdan found his National Service (NS) stint with SPF to be so fulfilling, he signed up to be a Volunteer Special Constabulary (VSC) officer after completing his NS.

As a Full-time National Servicemen (NSF), Mr Azim served at SPF’s Protective Security Command (ProCom) as an In-Situ Reaction Team (IRT) officer. IRTs serve as quick reaction forces on the ground to neutralise armed threats. He worked closely with regular officers to patrol sensitive locations and interacted with members of the public daily.

Mr Azim says, “During NS, I learned that knowing ‘why’ is essential before performing any duties. Working alongside dedicated regulars made me realise that Police officers are humans too, with families to return home to. They shared that they have a strong sense of duty to protect their loved ones and society.”

SERVING WHILE STUDYING

Mr Muhammad Azim Bin Hamdan was a ProCom officer during his PNSF days.

After his Operationally Ready Date (ORD), Mr Azim joined as a VSC officer so he could continue contributing to the nation’s security while studying. Now an undergraduate at the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT), the 25-year-old is deployed as a Ground Response Force (GRF) officer. He finds his stint with the VSC challenging but fulfilling and believes volunteering helped him develop his decision-making and communication skills.

“I constantly make an effort to remind myself of ‘why’ – to help keep my loved ones and others safe before carrying out my duties as a volunteer, alongside the regular officers,” notes Mr Azim. “This mindset has helped to motivate and carry me through challenging times over my course of volunteering.”

Mr Azim encourages fellow NSFs to consider volunteering with HTVN. He believes that the basic training, skills and knowledge that NSFs received in their respective fields are transferrable and add value to their volunteer schemes.

“Go for it! If you aspire to give back to society, having a full-time job and fighting crime on the side, volunteering with the VSC or any schemes under HTVN is the perfect opportunity for you,” says Mr Azim.

READY FOR ANY EMERGENCY

Mr Ou Chun Ju volunteers as a medic and firefighter for the Civil Defence Auxiliary Unit.

Through serving NS as a medic for the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) holding the rank of SGT1, Ou Chun Ju SGT3 (V), a 32-year-old front-end web developer had learnt to save lives and work under pressure.

Mr Ou had multiple opportunities to assist ambulance crews and save patients from potentially dangerous situations during NS. This piqued his interest in emergency medical services and inspired him to sign up with the HTVN where he volunteers with the Civil Defence Auxiliary Unit (CDAU) to further develop his skills after his NS stint.

“During NS, my team and I had attended a cardiac arrest case and succeeded in saving the patient’s life,” said Mr Ou. “The patient’s family members were happy and grateful to us which made me realise how important and valuable my job and knowledge is.”

In addition to life-saving skills, which includes cardiac life support and trauma management, the 32-year-old also picked up valuable life-skills such as situation management and leadership during NS.

While volunteering as a medic on standby at SCDF’s Singapore-Global-Firefighters and Paramedics Challenge (SGFPC), Mr Ou was able to apply his skills when he was put in-charge of a first-aid station.

“I used my leadership and situation managements skills to arrange my manpower needs in the event of an influx of cases at one go,” said Mr Ou. “When I attended to the patients, I applied my trauma management skills as part of the competition.”

As a medic and firefighter volunteer for the CDAU, Mr Ou encourages new paramedic volunteers to seek help from regular staff when in doubt and to maintain a positive attitude towards learning as medical knowledge is constantly evolving.

“Any decision we make will affect the patient’s life. Not everyone gets the chance to really put their hand up and save people,” he said.

In 2020, Mr Ou also became a CDAU firefighter to gain exposure to a different field and to challenge himself. To Mr Ou, being a firefighter meant that he could step forward and save casualties head-on, in dangerous and high-pressure circumstances with high stakes.

“When there is a fire or road accident, firefighters are the ones who put in their lives, patience and skills to save the casualties,” explained Mr Ou. “As medics, we usually wait for the patient to be rescued before taking over.”

“I wanted to experience enduring high temperatures to fight fires while carrying heavy equipment to save my casualties. To me, this is a very precious opportunity as not everyone has the chance and motivation to do this,” he added. 

Find out more on how you can make a difference in your community. Volunteer with Home Team Volunteer Network today!

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In The Force

Keeping Singapore drug-free

Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB)’s Anti-Drug Abuse Campaign recognises the devastating impact of drugs on abusers and their loved ones, and aims to garner public support for a drug-free lifestyle. We ask two CNB staff and one Singapore Civil Defence Force NSF why staying drug-free is important to them.

TEXT: MELODY TAN

PHOTOS: HOMETEAMNS

While the number of drug abusers arrested in Singapore declined by 11 per cent last year, there is a worrying trend: Some 34 per cent of the 2,724 arrested were new drug abusers – and 60 per cent of these new abusers were under 30 years of age.

Given the high proportion of younger abusers, it is important to raise awareness of the harmful effects of drugs such as methamphetamine, heroin and cannabis, which are most commonly abused in Singapore. These drugs not only harm the health and well-being of the abusers, but they also damage the lives of their families, friends and the community at large.

This year’s Anti-Drug Abuse Campaign by the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) aims to build continued support for a drug-free Singapore, with a DrugFreeSG Light-Up on Sunday, 26 June between 7.30pm to 12 midnight.

Held since 2018, the light-up will see Singapore’s most iconic buildings lit up in the green and white, colours of the anti-drug ribbon, to symbolise Singapore’s support for the drug-free cause and commemorate the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking – known as ‘World Drug Day’ – which falls on 26 June. This year, the light-up is paired with the DrugFreeSG Pop-Up at Suntec City Tower 3 East Atrium, between 26 June and 3 July.

Said Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of National Development, and President of HomeTeamNS, in a video produced by CNB in support of the Anti-Drug Abuse Campaign: “26 June marks the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. This global observance aims to raise awareness of the major problem that illicit drugs cause to society and serves as a reminder for all of us not to take our relatively drug-free environment here in Singapore for granted.”

AVOIDING THE TRAP OF DRUGS

Mr Samuel Ang Wei Jie is an administrative officer in the Department Technology Office in CNB. He provides an essential service to the functioning of the organisation by handling the on and off-boarding of CNB officers’ accounts.

Having worked as a community engagement officer in the Singapore Police Force (SPF) during his full-time National Service (NS) stint, Mr Ang was eager to join CNB due to the familiarity of its structure.

In addition, CNB’s work resonates with him as he is adamant about staying drug-free. “Since I was young, schools have been emphasising the need to stay drug-free,” says Samuel. “I keep myself away from drugs because I know the heavy consequences that come with them.”

In his view, having the right people around you are just as important as one’s personal resolve, when it comes to steering clear of drugs. “I think many people do drugs when they’re seeking attention or are being influenced by a bad social circle. I would tell them: ‘Don’t fall for the trap – your life is your own, not anyone else’s.”

EARLY PREVENTION FIGHTS ADDICTION

As an NSF Provost in the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), SGT1 Darren Goh helps to enforce discipline and assists in running the rehabilitation and regime programmes in the detention barracks.

Having been recognised as an outstanding Provost and an exemplary role model, SGT1 Darren lives out his high professional standards  through his personal life as he takes a resolute stand against drugs.

“Drug abuse causes the abuser to become overwhelmed daily by the temptation of drugs, to the point where he or she is unable to carry out routine tasks such as working or studying. The abuser will be less likely to care or consider the feelings of others. That is why drug abuse can ruin the lives of a lot of people.”

SGT1 Darren believes that drug prevention is the way to go, so that people do not become addicted in the first place. “It is important that people – especially those who are young – stay away from drugs, including things like cough syrup which can be easily purchased. One quote I would like to share with them is this: ‘Work hard to soar high, don’t do drugs to get by.’”

WORKING TO SUPPORT THE DRUG-FREE CAUSE

CNB Community Partnership intern, Dion Lee, hopes to one day join the organisation as a regular officer. The former Ground Response Force NSF officer with the SPF responded to several drug-related incidents that made an impact on him and fuelled his determination to stay drug-free.

Recalling an incident where a man was found lying on the ground, Mr Lee says that he and his partner soon discovered that the man had no pulse and was not breathing.

“It was determined later by a pathologist that the person had passed on due to a drug overdose,” he recounts. “When I conducted a search on him, I found a picture of him and his mother. My heart sank and I thought to myself, how would his mother feel if we were to break the news to her? That is when I realised that drugs do not just affect the abusers, but those around them as well.”

When studying at the Singapore University of Social Sciences, Mr Lee volunteered as an A3 (Anti-Drug Abuse Advocacy) advocate, disseminating anti-drug messages within his circle of friends. “I tapped on what I learnt in school and my previous internships to help create awareness of the drug-free cause and make a positive impact in the community. I believe for every person we reached out to, another person is impacted – and he or she can help in promulgating anti-drug messages too.”

Mr Lee, who is currently tasked with helping to plan the Anti-Drug Abuse Campaign, says that the social evil of drugs is something that Singaporeans should not disregard. “I believe everyone has a part to play in keeping Singapore drug-free, and it all starts with me and you!” 

Visit the CNB website to learn more about the DrugFreeSG Light-Up on 26 June, and the Anti-Drug Abuse Campaign.

As part of this year’s Drug Free SG campaign, the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) is collaborating with HomeTeamNS to educate and encourage members to stay clear of drugs.

Members and visitors at all HomeTeamNS Clubhouses are invited to fold green and white Anti-Drug Ribbons to show support for a drug-free Singapore. The activities take place over the following dates:

  • 19 June to 2 July 2022: HomeTeamNS-JOM Balestier
  • 1 to 30 June 2022: HomeTeamNS Bukit Batok
  • 12 to 26 June 2022: HomeTeamNS Khatib
  • 6 to 26 June 2022: HomeTeamNS Tampines
Categories
In The Force

A bigger role in blue: Transitioning from junior to senior SPF officer

SSS (NS) Jason Chua from the Singapore Police Force shares his experience attending a six-week leadership course at the Home Team Academy.

TEXT AND PHOTOS: SPF

Like many of his fellow Police National Service Men (PNS men), SSS (NS) Jason Chua was happy to perform his duties to the best of his abilities. In November 2021, he was one of three PNS men who were given the unique opportunity to undertake a six-week leadership course held at the Home Team Academy (HTA) with other regulars from the Singapore Police Force.

This course was specially designed for officers to be promoted to the echelons of senior officers. “I am honoured to count myself as a member of this pioneer batch of PNS men chosen for this leadership course,” SSS (NS) Chua said.

BONDED BY A COMMON MISSION

The course tested each trainee’s physical and mental resilience, and the group bonded quickly.

“Our background and rank — be it Station Inspector or Senior Station Inspector — were irrelevant. We learnt to sync and grow together as comrades-in-arms, holding the special title of Senior Officer Trainee (SOT).”    

The course began with a four-week non-residential intensive academic programme where the trainees studied aspects of the law that were most relevant to good policing, such as the Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code and Evidence Act.

“We were taught by not only experienced course managers but were also privileged to hear directly from seasoned private practitioners who candidly shared their knowledge with us,” SSS (NS) Chua said.

INTELLECTUALLY INTENSE TRAINING

“While it was an intellectually grueling experience, I am certain that all the SOTs were grateful for this academic rigor. After all, with increased scrutiny by the public on the work we do, it is increasingly important for police officers to be equipped with the legal knowledge that would enable them to excel in their job,” he added.

The academic programme culminated in a written examination comprising essays and short structured hypothetical questions that assess the SOTs ability to react to various scenarios and apply the correct police powers. The trainees were graded on the accuracy of their responses.  

“While such hypothetical scenarios cannot replace the real-life action that officers on the ground face daily, we welcomed the opportunity to put our new-found knowledge to practice,” SSS (NS) Chua said.

ENTERING THE FINAL PHASE

According to SSS (NS) Chua, the real fun commenced just two days after the examinations with an exciting two-week residential leadership training stint – the final leg of their course.

Conducted by the Leadership and Executive Training School (LETS) of the HTA, the residential component of the course aimed to develop, prepare and equip police officers with the necessary skills and knowledge to step into the shoes of an Inspector.

“Throughout the leadership course, we undertook various exercises to train us holistically to become an all-rounded leader. From classroom lessons to physical trainings, we were stretched and pushed to fulfil our highest potential. Our physical and mental resilience was tested time and again. Without the encouragement from our instructors and the friendship of our squad-mates, we would not have pulled through,” SSS (NS) Chua said.

The trainees also organised a fire-side chat with Deputy Superintendent of Police, Roy Lim, on the topic of leadership.

“There was no better way to learn about leadership than to hear first-hand from a seasoned and respected leader himself. I found the talk by SUPT (NS) Lim to be candid and forthcoming on what makes a good leader. The tips and lessons SUPT (NS) Lim shared – including how he rose through the ranks –were simply first class!”

SSS (NS) Chua appreciated the fact that lessons were not confined to the classroom. During this final phase of the course, trainees worked in teams, conducted mock briefings and went on outdoor “missions”.

“These exercises required us to apply and put into practice the leadership skills imparted to us during the course, such as communication skills, teamwork and efficiency. The two-week residential component of the course taught me more about myself and what it takes to be a good leader. There is more to leadership than meets the eye. It comes from experience in walking the leadership journey and being humble and learning from others,” said SSS (NS) Chua.

Categories
In The Force

What leadership means to him

SCDF MAJOR (NS) Rozaiman Rosidi on the three leadership values that matter to him as a commander.

TEXT: SCDF / PHOTOS: SCDF

MAJ (NS) Rozaiman Rosidi, 39, enlisted for National Service in 2005 and was posted to the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF). He completed a 9-month Basic Officers’ Course (BOC) and was posted to the Special Rescue Battalion (SRB) as a Platoon Commander. “As I matured from being a recruit to a commander, the camaraderie, knowledge and experiences gained were invaluable, and it shaped who I am today,” he reflected.

Currently a Deputy Commander of 21 Rescue Unit, MAJ (NS) Rozaiman was also appointed a Company Commander of the Operations Support Company (OSC) in 2019. He also serves as a HomeTeamNS Volunteer in the Audit Committee and was formerly in the Development Committee (North) in 2017.

“As a leader, I strongly believe in achieving three things — empowerment, trust and effective communication.”

MAJ (NS) Rozaiman Rosidi

Under his leadership, his OSC achieved the highest score in logistics management among the RBN units for three consecutive years. MAJ (NS) Rozaiman is delighted with the unit’s achievements and he added that being able to grow professionally together with his team has made him proud to serve as an NSman.

LESSONS IN LEADERSHIP

“As a leader, I strongly believe in achieving three things — empowerment, trust and effective communication,” said MAJ (NS) Rozaiman. Here are his thoughts on these three key elements of leadership.

Empowerment
“I believe that by empowering my men with tasks big or small, they will in turn take ownership of their work and responsibilities. The art of empowerment also requires you to recognise their achievements by complimenting them. Conversely, for any of their shortfalls, it would be a lesson for all to learn from and to be resolved so we can emerge stronger from it.”

Trust
“I trust my team. At the same time, I strive to earn my team’s trust. Therefore, I make it a point to get to know every one of them and give them the opportunity to get to know me. I believe that when they trust me, they are better able to appreciate my thoughts and decisions. When faced with challenges, they know that they are not alone for I am right beside them, guiding them through thick and thin.”

Effective communication
“I tend to emphasise open communication such as giving and receiving feedback when working with my team. I seize opportunities to solicit their feedback on how we can improve. I make it a point to explain the larger objectives to my team, as well as the constraints and expected challenges. This helps them better appreciate their respective roles and what lies ahead to get things done effectively. This is how I practise effective communication.”