Emergencies can arise at any time and at any place, and Singapore’s ability to deal with unforeseen emergencies and situations plays a very large role in ensuring her continued security and stability.
The SCDF is dedicated to its mission of saving lives and property. And with Singaporeans depending on them to tackle a range of crises and emergencies, SCDF officers never fail to rise to the occasion.
Home Team scholars MAJ Chen Yong Kai, 29, and MAJ Png Yan Da, 32, tell us about their roles in providing for a safe and secure Singapore.
Safeguarding the Community
MAJ Chen has always had an eye set on the civil service. Both his parents were members of the Public Service until their retirement, and he witnessed first-hand their passion and the immense satisfaction they derived from serving the public.
“The opportunity to be part of the Life Saving Force which ensures the safety of Singaporeans appealed to me. And coupled with the fact that the scholarship application process took place shortly after the September 11 attacks, I knew I wanted a role in safeguarding the community,” he tells us earnestly.
Now a Senior Staff Officer in Operations Policy and Development, MAJ Chen plays a key role in preparing operational plans for fire-fighting and rescue operations and in ensuring the operational preparedness of all the SCDF units. He elaborates, “I am also tasked with the critical role of ensuring the validity and relevance of the policies to SCDF operations, in addition to looking into new ideas to tackle current and future challenges faced by SCDF.”
MAJ Png Yan Da
Singapore Government Scholar
Designation: Senior Assistant Director (Civil Defence)
Studied: Master of Engineering (Chemical Engineering), Imperial College London, UK
On MAJ Png’s part, he was attracted by the dynamic nature of SCDF’s operations. As a force that trains to deal with the unexpected, the SCDF adapts quickly to the demands of the situation. He explains, “It is indeed a challenging job and we are trained to think and react on our feet. Most important of all, I wanted a job that allowed me to serve and make a difference to people’s lives.”
MAJ Png is currently on secondment to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) as Senior Assistant Director (Civil Defence). “I oversee and formulate policies pertaining to the Emergency Medical Services. As the Commander of Alexandra Fire Station previously, I was at the frontline responding to incidents. Now, my experience with policy work in MHA allows me to understand things from the perspective of the Ministry,” he shares.
“The rationale behind specific policies may not be immediately apparent to those on the frontline, but when you are directly involved in policy planning and formulation, you come to understand these issues better. I look forward to bringing a clearer understanding of both perspectives into my operations work in the future.”
Growing with the Home Team
As a Local Merit Scholar, MAJ Chen has had many opportunities to take on significant roles in projects that bolster SCDF’s ability to respond to various emergencies. He enthuses, “I was the project officer of the Unmanned Fire-Fighting Machine (UFM), a new machine which was introduced in April 2014. I was also involved in the establishment of five new fire posts. I derived great satisfaction from these projects – the UFM relieves the heavy manpower commitment required in major operations and still evinces a far superior fire-fighting capability that can quickly extinguish flames, while the additional fire posts have reduced SCDF’s emergency response time to residential estates and industrial areas in the vicinity.”
MAJ Chen Yong Kai
Local Merit Scholar
Designation: Senior Staff Officer in Operations Policy and Development, Operations Department
Studied: Bachelor of Engineering (Chemical
and Biomolecular Engineering),
Nanyang Technological University
MAJ Chen has also benefited from SCDF’s efforts to nurture and train its officers so they can carry out their duties better. He recalls, smiling, “SCDF has set me on an all-rounded career development path which equips me with a variety of skills and the versatility to handle a wide range of tasks. I have had the opportunity to attend overseas conferences where homeland security as well as Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) issues were discussed. And just a few months ago, I was sent to Texas, US, for Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) fire-suppression training.”
MAJ Png has similarly been on the receiving end of numerous developmental opportunities as a Singapore Government scholar. He says, “My scholarship enabled me to pursue a direct Master’s in Chemical Engineering at Imperial College London, UK. To add on, I was afforded the chance to take on internships at SCDF when I returned to Singapore during my university holidays. For instance, I was attached to the Hazardous Materials Department where I undertook project-based studies that gave me an early look at SCDF’s role in this area.”
MAJ Png completed his scholarship bond last year and has chosen to stay on in SCDF. He looks forward to exciting new prospects with the organisation. He shares, “After my secondment with MHA, I look forward to returning to operations work.”
Exciting Developments on the Horizon
And there is still more to come, with new and exciting developments in store at SCDF. As it continuously seeks to upgrade its capabilities to better serve the public and deal with future challenges, it is quick to develop new and innovative technological solutions, forge community partnerships and maximise the potential of its people.
MAJ Chen tells us about SCDF’s vision for 2025 – a Nation of Life Savers. “While SCDF continues to focus on enhancing our capabilities to better respond to and manage emergencies, we cannot be everywhere immediately when an incident occurs. Time and again it has been proven that in an emergency situation, prompt intervention by the person next to the victim can make a vital difference between life and death,” he says excitedly.
“The vision of building a Nation of Life Savers will see the various communities – residential, commercial and industrial – taking greater and sustainable ownership of the safety of the community. As the Life Saving Force, SCDF will work together with the community to achieve a new state of emergency preparedness for our society. This collaborative approach incorporates a new tiered response model where the community’s first responder will be seamlessly integrated with the SCDF’s.”
With so much to look forward to, it’s no wonder that MAJ Png speaks encouragingly of the prospects awaiting future Home Team scholars who join SCDF. He says warmly, “An SCDF career is certainly a far cry from a deskbound job. Front-line operations require you to think quickly and move swiftly, but the challenge and chance to help those in need makes it all very fulfilling. You’ll also have the opportunity to play a leading role in creating a safer and more prepared society that is able to respond to any emergency!”