Speech By Minister For Health, Mr Gan Kim Yong, At The Dispatcher-Assisted First Responder Training Programme At The Methodist Church Of The Incarnation On 21 June

Good afternoon

Pastor Derrick Lau, Methodist Church of the Incarnation

Mr Abdul Mutalif Bin Hashim, Chairman, Chua Chu Kang Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circle (IRCC)

Mr Vernon Kang, CEO, Singapore Heart Foundation

Ladies and gentlemen

2.            Thank you for inviting me today. The Dispatcher-Assisted First Responder training programme or “DARE” for short is a simple yet important initiative which asks every able person to DARE to step up and give assistance to anyone who has collapsed.  

3.            Around 1800 cardiac arrests occur in Singapore every year, where nearly half, or 900 cases, occur in people below the age of 65 years. This is worrying as these patients are in the prime of their lives. Today, only about 3% of these patients survive the cardiac arrest. This does not compare well against cities like Seattle, Tokyo or Seoul, where the survival rates are up to 20%.

4.            To improve survival rates of cardiac arrest, time is of the essence and treatment must begin as soon as possible. An ambulance takes about 10 minutes to arrive on scene on average. But chances of survival increase greatly if CPR and defibrillation are administered within the first few minutes of collapse. Hence in those first few minutes, more lives can be saved if there are people around the patients trained in the important skills of CPR and usage of the defibrillator.

5.            The Unit for Pre-hospital Emergency Care runs the programme, DARE, which trains participants on what to do during such emergencies. SCDF’s 995 medical dispatchers are trained to guide you over the phone on what you can do to help. Since 2014, DARE has trained more than 8,000 participants. In the next three years, we hope to train more people, in collaboration with community groups like the IRCC.

6.            DARE teaches simplified CPR, or chest-compression only CPR. Clinical studies have shown that simplified CPR works well when guided over the telephone by a dispatcher. A recent study by the Singapore General Hospital and National Heart Centre Singapore has also shown that participants who learnt simplified CPR gave better quality chest compressions than those who went through standard CPR training.

7.            Nonetheless, I still encourage you to continue further to learn standard CPR after this course. There are some medical emergencies such as children who are in cardiac arrest or people who have suffocated or drowned that need to have mouth-to-mouth ventilations administered.

8.            We can all do our part to save lives by equipping ourselves with the necessary skills to handle such a medical emergency. Most out-of-hospital cardiac arrests happen in the victim’s home or places he frequents, often in the presence of relatives, friends, or neighbours. By preparing for the unexpected, the skills acquired today may end up saving lives of someone we know or we love in the future if you DARE.

9.            Today I am heartened by the good community response and support. I hope that you will have a fruitful session today and encourage your family and friends to join you in learning this important and potentially life-saving skill.

Thank you. 

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