Monday, 9 Dec 2019

50 more taxis equipped to save lives in heart attack

HDT Singapore Taxi has become the second cab company whose vehicles are equipped with automated external defibrillators (AED) that can be used in emergencies like cardiac arrest.

Sponsorship from the Singapore Heart Foundation (SHF) has allowed the firm to fit 50 of its electric-powered taxis with the portable device, which can send an electric shock to the heart to revive it during a cardiac arrest.

The cabs are also equipped with fire extinguishers and first-aid kits.

Cabbies driving these taxis have been trained in life-saving skills such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and AED procedures, basic first aid and firefighting.

The HDT Singapore Taxi-Singapore Heart Foundation AED-on-Wheels programme was launched yesterday at Kampung Admiralty.

The AED-on-Wheels programme itself started in November 2015 when 100 SMRT taxis were equipped with AEDs.

Mr Amrin Amin, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Home Affairs, said the move increases the pool of community first responders who would be “called upon to render assistance to others during emergencies”.

Citing the SMRT take-up of the initiative, he added: “In the event of a cardiac arrest emergency, these SMRT taxi drivers can help deliver the AED to the scene quickly, administer the AED or perform CPR. This improves the chances of survival for the victim.”

The programme aims to buy time for those who suffer a heart attack, before Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) officers show up. Participating cabbies will be alerted by the SCDF myResponder app to any cardiac arrest incident within a 1.5km radius of their taxi location.

SMRT taxi drivers have arrived on scene to assist in 149 cardiac arrest cases as of September this year.

MAKING IT EASIER TO SAVE LIVES

Heart attack is the main cause of cardiac arrest and an ageing population naturally brings about a higher number of such incidents. So by making the AED available and accessible in all channels, we hope that every life can be saved.

SINGAPORE HEART FOUNDATION CHAIRMAN TAN HUAY CHEEM

HDT’s senior manager of operations, Mr Leslie Ng, said if the taxi has a passenger on board when the alert comes in, the driver will state that he is diverting to the incident.

SHF chairman Tan Huay Cheem said there are around 1,800 cardiac arrest cases a year, with 60 per cent occurring mainly to the elderly at home – but that number may increase over time.

He said: “Heart attack is the main cause of cardiac arrest and an ageing population naturally brings about a higher number of such incidents. So by making the AED available and accessible in all channels, we hope that every life can be saved.”

HDT, set up here in 2016, is Singapore’s seventh taxi operator. It has around 120 drivers, all of whom have completed over 80 hours of training such as the SkillsFuture for Digital Workplace programme and courses for handling children and passengers with special needs.

Singapore’s largest taxi operator is ComfortDelGro, which operates about 11,500 Comfort and CityCab taxis.

ComfortDelGro chief spokesman Tammy Tan told The Straits Times that the firm is “exploring the idea” of equipping its vehicles with AEDs.

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