Late last year when Dr Jade Kua was on maternity leave, she didn’t think twice to respond to an urgent call of help during the dead of night. A man had suffered a bad accident at the foot of her building and needed to be resuscitated immediately. But even as an experienced doctor, the 37-year-old found the situation intimidating.
“It is different when you are in a hospital setting. There are bright lights, you are already in scrubs and there are nurses assisting you,” she explains.
But for the programme director of the Dare (Dispatcher Assisted First Responder) Programme — an initiative that educates members of the public to perform life-saving aid — the experience was invaluable. It put her squarely in the shoes of the average person on the street who may find themselves in the position where they have to act as a first responder. “I then understood better how frightening it must be for them,” says Kua.
As it is very often fear that stops a bystander from assisting in a medical emergency, Kua believes it is imperative for initiatives such as Dare to ramp up public engagement.
“When a person collapses from cardiac arrest, the person right next to him can be the first responder who tries to resuscitate the victim as early as possible,” she says. According to Kua, who is a consultant at the department of emergency medicine at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, studies show that a cardiac victim’s chances of survival reduces by 10 percent for every minute delay in applying CPR.
Introduced three years ago, the Dare Programme was initially conceived to reach out to youths between 11 and 17, but has since begun providing skills training to adult members of the community. “Eventually, the programme hopes to train at least one person in every household in Singapore, regardless of their background, to dare to do it,” she says.
While it is no easy task, Kua is optimistic that the Dare team — composed of members of the Singapore Civil Defence Force, doctors and nurses — will make a lasting positive impact. One initiative is its myResponder app, which alerts volunteers to nearby cardiac arrest cases so as to render first aid before ambulance arrival.
“Any kind of CPR is better than none. One more person who would dare to do it is better than one less. We are hopeful about making a difference,” she reiterates.