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One Home Team: Responding to COVID-19 (Part 5)
Duty and dedication – Working as One Home Team as part of the national response to COVID-19.

Since the emergence of COVID-19, the Home Team has moved swiftly to support the national response to this public health threat. Here’s a snapshot of how our Home Team Guardians are playing their part.

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GRAPHIC: Home Team News

STEPPING UP FOR FAST
Karen Ong, Senior Assistant Executive (Human Resource Management), Human Resource Division, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA)
When the call for volunteers came, they responded. Since mid-April 2020, Home Team officers have been deployed for Forward Assurance and Support Team (FAST) duties, working on the ground to ensure that migrant workers residing at dormitories receive the support they need. Karen Ong shares her experiences with us.

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PHOTOS: Karen Ong
 
Tell us more about your role as a FAST volunteer.
Since 13 April, I’ve been assigned to support operations in Redhill. I help ensure the well-being of the residents and that safe distancing measures are observed. Working with a Managing Agent, I also make sure that the residents receive their meals on time, follow-up on their requests, check on their health condition and attend to their medical needs.

Why did you decide to volunteer?
This was an opportunity to help the community in my own small way. Our migrant workers have been going through difficult times with the emergence of COVID-19, so I’m determined to help improve their situation as they’ve worked hard to improve our lives.

Share with us what you do daily while on deployment.
My team and I check that the residents receive their daily meals promptly. We also work with security officers to ensure that health measures are observed at all times. This includes making sure that the residents practise safe distancing and wear masks. We also assist the Managing Agent to improve the work processes on-site by engaging with the residents and conducting checks on their environment. 

As FAST officers, we get to work with officers from public agencies such as the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the Housing and Development Board. I’ve learnt a lot from them. As a team, we check in on one another regularly, to make sure that everyone is well. During our breaks, we share stories and chat to make our days on-site a little livelier. – INTERVIEWED BY DESMOND ANG

ON FAST DUTY 
Assistant Superintendent (ASP) Lua Sheng Long, Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA)
On the ground, it's teamwork – and swift action – that makes the difference. ASP Lua Sheng Long of ICA tells us about his work as a FAST officer. 

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Rendering support to dormitory operators and residents. PHOTOS: ICA

When did your FAST deployment start, and what does your role involve?
I was added into my FAST team’s WhatsApp group on 8 April at about 9am and was conducting a recce at my assigned dormitory at 12pm. Talk about being “fast!” 

I render support to the dormitory managers and ensure that the relevant health and safety measures are implemented properly. By doing this, we help allay concerns amongst the dormitory residents, ensure that they are well taken care of and raise their trust and confidence in our health measures. 

What do you do daily while on deployment?
There haven’t been many days that are routine. Be it managing issues that arise or planning for what’s to come, the only thing that’s unchanged is having to be on my toes!  That said, my focus areas are the proper upkeep of dormitory resident records and the planning and management of the meal distribution. I’m also involved in a range of activities such as swabbing operations and addressing queries about Internet access, the provision of remittance services and so on.

What motivates you as a FAST officer?
What keeps me going is the knowledge that I’m not alone in this fight against COVID-19. From my bosses and senior management (who’ve been actively checking on our physical and mental well-being) to my fellow Home Team officers and public officers, we’re each doing our part to battle COVID-19. – INTERVIEWED BY DESMOND ANG

APPLYING BEST PRACTICES ON THE GROUND
Deputy Superintendent (DSP) 2 Jared Lee, Officer-in-Charge, Complex Escort Unit, Prison External Operations, Operations & Security Command, Singapore Prison Service (SPS); and Sergeant (SGT) 3 Mohammad Nur Basti Bin Jumari, Escort Officer, Complex Escort Unit, Prison External Operations, Operations & Security Command, SPS
FAST officers have adapted best practices from successive deployments to streamline vital processes (such as meal distributions and treatment protocols) to ensure the welfare of residents. Two SPS officers tell us about their FAST duties.

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DSP2 Jared Lee on duty. PHOTOS: SPS
 
When did your FAST deployment start, and what does your role involve?
DSP2 Jared: I started in mid-April at Cassia@Penjuru Dormitory. As a FAST officer, I help monitor the number of residents reporting sick daily and work with the on-site medical team to ensure that they receive the necessary care. I also support the Dormitory Manager in daily operations and monitor the capacity of the dormitory as an isolated residential facility. That way, we can ensure that all residents are safe and cared for.

SGT3 Nur Basti: My deployment as a FAST officer at Jurong Penjuru Dormitory 1 also began in mid-April. My role requires me to work closely with Dormitory Managers on tasks such as meal distribution and ensuring social distancing. I also support Police officers on-site when required.

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Among the SPS officers deployed for FAST duty is SGT3 Mohammad Nur Basti (at right). PHOTOS: SPS
 
What are your duties while on deployment?
DSP2 Jared: I monitor the number of residents who are sick and/or need medical attention. We work closely with the medical team to ensure that potential COVID-19 cases who need to see the doctor don’t mix with residents reporting sick, and that those reporting sick for respiratory-related illnesses are housed separately. We also work with deployed Police officers to ensure access control to various parts of the dormitory.

SGT3 Nur Basti: I oversee the meal distribution for residents and ensure that they wear masks and maintain safe distancing at all times. Our team also liaises with the dormitory security guards to update information on residents who are unwell. If a resident requires further medical attention, my team will make arrangements for an ambulance. I keep track of those who have been admitted to hospital, and report the details of these residents to MOM. I also keep track of those who are quarantined in the dormitory’s isolation facilities. 

What challenges have you faced in your FAST duties?
DSP2 Jared: We’ve had to adapt to working in an unfamiliar environment and being mindful of cultural nuances and the language barrier. On top of this, we have to ensure that movement in and out of the dormitory is strictly controlled. 

What keeps you motivated in doing your role?
DSP2 Jared:
It’s meaningful to be involved in an operation where I get to work with officers from other public agencies while contributing to our national effort to keep Singapore safe. I’ve also found our healthcare workers to be some of the most remarkable and caring people around. They work hard all day to care for residents while wearing their full Personal Protective Equipment!

SGT3 Nur Basti: The cohesiveness and teamwork among Home Team officers definitely makes things easier. It has been a great experience to work with those I rarely get to engage with in my daily duties as a Prison officer. – INTERVIEWED BY FAZLEE ROSLI

Thanks to our dedicated Home Team Guardians for keeping Singapore safe and secure. Don’t forget to check out:
- One Home Team: Responding to COVID-19 (Part 1)
- One Home Team: Responding to COVID-19 (Part 2)
- One Home Team: Responding to COVID-19 (Part 3)
- One Home Team: Responding to COVID-19 (Part 4)
One Home Team: Responding to COVID-19 (Part 6)
One Home Team: Responding to COVID-19 (Part 7)
© 2019 Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore. All Rights Reserved.


  1. by Desmond Ang and Fazlee Rosli
  2. 02 June 2020
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