On Assignment
A Call to Care on the Frontlines
In our Nurses’ Day special, we meet two SCDF officers who began their lifesaving journey as nurses.

Sergeant (SGT) Muhammad Durrani Bin Johari and Lieutenant (LTA) Rafidah Ibrahim of the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) both come from families of nurses. Trained as nurses themselves, they are now proud to serve as SCDF officers. We spoke to them to find out why they answered the call to care on the frontlines.

Home Team News SCDF Nurses Day 01
Lifesavers at heart: Switching out their nurse uniforms for Paramedic blues are SGT Durrani and LTA Rafidah. PHOTO: Jermaine Ting

Tell us about your work with the SCDF.
SGT Durrani: I’m an Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Section Commander at Paya Lebar Fire Station.

LTA Rafidah: And I’m an EMS Team Leader at 2nd Division, SCDF.

Why did you choose to become a lifesaver?

SGT Durrani: I was an Engineering student originally, but the prospect of nursing came to me while I was caring for my family members; my dad had a heart attack and I accompanied him for his follow-up appointments, while my aunt was diabetic.

During my NS (National Service) days with SCDF, I had the opportunity to be attached to an ambulance, and that’s when my interest was sparked. After NS, I worked as a nurse for four years. I was really keen to do more so I volunteered with the Civil Defence Auxiliary Unit and later became an SCDF officer.

LTA Rafidah: I came across an opening for SCDF Paramedics after my graduation. I felt that the work was similar to what I’d learnt in nursing. So here I am, after 20 years!

What’s the difference between being a Paramedic and a Nurse?
LTA Rafidah: The roles require similar professional skills, but as Paramedics, I think we’re more garang (bold) due to the situations and environments we find ourselves in. When we respond to an emergency call, we’re also on our own.

Home Team News SCDF Nurses Day 03
Always ready: Ensuring their lifesaving equipment is in good condition – that’s one of the many responsibilities of an EMS Section Commander. PHOTO: Jermaine Ting

Tell us something about being a Paramedic that people don’t necessarily know.
SGT Durrani: We’re trained to deliver babies, anytime, anywhere; it doesn’t matter if we’re inside an elevator or travelling along the expressway.

LTA Rafidah:
We’re based at fire stations, not hospitals.

Share some of the challenges of being a Paramedic.
LTA Rafidah: For many of us, it’s not attending to the patient that’s most challenging, but managing the patient’s immediate family, or members of the public. They may become emotional because they too want the best for the patient.

SGT Durrani: This is especially so if the family members are elderly or very young. To reassure them, we may decide to involve them in the treatment process, for example by asking them to assist us by passing us items we need. This way, they’re also aware of what we’re trying to do.

What qualities must Paramedics possess?
LTA Rafidah: We need to put ourselves in the shoes of those we help, in order to connect with them and their family members. If we can’t make this connection, it may be harder to get vital information to treat patients.

SGT Durrani:
Empathy and the ability to stay calm. If you have a passion to serve, this is the job for you.
© 2019 Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore. All Rights Reserved.


  1. by Ashley Tuen
  2. 31 July 2019
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