Singapore Heart Foundation Launches Training Programme for Migrant Workers

Project Heart – one of the most prominent local lifesaving events organised by the Singapore Heart Foundation (SHF) – marks its decade long efforts in raising awareness on the importance of Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and the use of Automated External Defibrillators (AED).

From this October, certified instructors from SHF will be conducting the Restart A Heart programme for dorm operators and migrant workers who have joined the “Friends of ACE” (FACE) network[1]. The hour-long session will cater to 24 participants in one dormitory a month for two years to ensure that swift support will be provided to victims in the event of a cardiac incident within or outside the dorms and work sites.

This simplified training programme is part of SHF’s partnership with the Assurance, Care and Engagement (ACE) Group under the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) under the Project First-Responder programme. The programme aims to build resuscitation readiness and capabilities in dormitories over the next two years through education and training in CPR and the use of AED and equipping of AEDs, especially the larger dormitories. This programme will benefit over 2,000 migrant workers who are FACE volunteers, dormitory operators and Forward Assurance and Support Teams (FAST) officers. Senior Minister of State for Health and Manpower, Dr Koh Poh Koon, shared this initiative at Project Heart 2021.

A 2020 report by the Registry of Births and Deaths showed that more than 6,200 cardiovascular deaths occur in Singapore each year, with more than 6,900 such deaths in 2020. Among them, an increasing number can be attributed to work-related causes, as reported by the Workplace Safety and Health Institute[2]. Lifesaving initiatives by SHF have bolstered community response rates and contributed to improved Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest (OHCA) survival rates from 11.6 per cent in 2011[3] to 26.2 per cent in 2019.

“We must make it a priority to build emergency preparedness in the community and at workplaces. This also extends to our living spaces, including at the dormitories for our migrant workers. Under the Project First-Responder programme, the ACE Group will be working with partners to equip migrant workers, dormitory operators and frontline officers with essential lifesaving skills. I also strongly encourage employers to get their employees trained in CPR and AED to strengthen the chain of survival at workplaces. Together, we can create a robust heart-safe nation,” said Dr Koh.

“Singapore Heart Foundation is an active advocate of CPR+AED skills in the community. In the past 10 years, we have trained over 37,000 people through our courses and events like Project Heart. We are pleased to be given this opportunity to extend our programme beyond the local community and support the ministry in this meaningful initiative to create a heart-safe workplace and living environment for the migrant workers. By equipping the workers with lifesaving skills, they also will add on to the pool of community first responders who can readily respond to any cardiac emergency that may occur wherever they are, thereby increasing the chance of survival for the victim,” said Mr Vernon Kang, Chief Executive Officer, Singapore Heart Foundation.

Project Heart: Virtual Restart A Heart programme

Additionally, as part of Project Heart, SHF will conduct a Virtual Restart A Heart (VRAH) mass training on 17 October for more than 400 pre-registered participants. It is a one-hour simplified training programme conducted over ZOOM where SHF’s certified instructors would guide attendees on the steps to perform chest compressions using a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Manikin made of household items, including toilet rolls, t-shirts and towels.

“70 – 80% of sudden cardiac arrest incidents happen out of hospital, i.e. at home or in public places. If the person nearest to the casualty can perform CPR and AED immediately when cardiac arrest strikes, the casualty’s chance of survival will double. For this reason, the Singapore Heart Foundation believes that it is critical to continue equipping the community with these essential lifesaving skills even during this pandemic. VRAH was developed and introduced in October last year to provide members of the public with basic understanding of the correct hand position and compression depth and rate, which are essential elements of effective chest compressions. More than 1,300 participants have since gone through VRAH and we are certain that the programme has given them the confidence to respond accordingly in a cardiac emergency,” said Mr Kang.

In line with the theme of the event “Spot a Gasp, Stop a Death”, attendees of Project Heart also participated in a live discussion on agonal breathing, an early symptom of cardiac arrest, and learned how to identify it in order to respond swiftly and accordingly during an emergency.

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1 The Friends of ACE (FACE) Network in the migrant worker dormitories was introduced to deepen engagement and strengthen social support for our migrant workforce from February 2021. Under the FACE Network, migrant worker volunteers serve as a bridge between their peers and MOM. They will represent their peers in raising concerns to the relevant parties, communicate latest information on policies, and rally their peers to participate in social activities such as festive celebrations.



Images: Envato and Singapore Heart Foundation

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