Responders' and Partners' Appreciation Event - Speech by Mr Desmond Tan, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment

Published: 21 January 2022

Commissioner Eric Yap,

Distinguished guests,

Community partners,

Colleagues from the Home Team,

Ladies and gentlemen,


1.   It is very nice to be here today. Today, we are here to recognise our SGSecure Responders and our SCDF Community First Responders, who have helped save lives and property over the past few years. We also want to recognise our community partners, some of whom are represented here today, who have played a large role in helping to build our community of Responders that we have today.

2.   Amongst the Responders with us this evening is Mr Desmond Mark Woo. He had successfully saved a cardiac arrest victim just a few years ago. Mr Woo was resting at home when he was notified by the SCDF’s myResponder app of a suspected cardiac arrest case near his block. Rushing to the scene, he found the 83-year-old victim lying on the floor, with his son nearby. Mr Woo was trained as a medic in the SAF many years ago. But it was his first time encountering a cardiac arrest victim. Nevertheless, he reacted quickly and worked together with the man’s son to perform CPR, carrying out chest compressions while the son gave mouth-to-mouth resuscitations. His prompt response bought time for the victim before SCDF arrived, and as we all know, one life was saved.

3.   Thanks to Responders like Mr Woo who act quickly, our community is better placed now to deal with the many crises and emergencies that we may encounter. 

Responders in Community Play Important Roles

4.   Mr Woo’s experience is illustrative that during an emergency, the first response of those nearby is critical.

5.   Statistically speaking, a cardiac arrest victim’s chances of survival drops by 7-10% every single minute, if CPR or AED is not applied.

6.   Similarly, interventions against minor fires in the first few minutes are crucial to prevent them from spreading into major ones.

7.   And in a terrorist attack, all the more, the immediate activation of lockdown procedures, reporting, evacuation, and applying first aid to victims, are very essential to save lives.

8.   It is therefore crucial to have a community trained in emergency preparedness skills, and who are willing to step forward whenever a crisis happens to help others around us.

9.   The Home Team has rolled out two key initiatives to build up our community response during emergencies and crises.

10.   First, SCDF launched the Save-A-Life initiative in 2015, together with the Ministry of Health, the Singapore Heart Foundation, as well as the People’s Association. This initiative aims to improve the survival rates of cardiac arrest victims by enhancing community first response through the myResponder app, as well as by making AEDs more accessible around our neighbourhoods.

11.   Under this initiative, over 5,500 AEDs have been installed, in HDB lift lobbies, condominiums, parks, and many common areas, among other places. We will continue to build up the network of AEDs island-wide, and by 2025, the aim is to have an AED accessible within 250 metres of all residential areas.

12.   Second, MHA launched the SGSecure movement in 2016 to sensitise, train, and mobilise the community to prevent and to deal with a terror attack.

13.   SGSecure programmes have been introduced in our neighbourhoods, schools, workplaces, and religious organisations. Through house visits by our Home Team officers, over 500,000 households, or more than one-third of resident households have also been engaged and equipped with the knowledge and skills, to  keep themselves and their families safe during an attack.

14.   The SGSecure Responders’ Network was also launched in 2019, when the “Respond” module of the myResponder app was added to the SGSecure app. This allowed SGSecure app users, once registered as Responders, to also be activated to respond to cardiac arrest cases or minor fires around them, effectively growing the pool of Responders in our community.

15.   As a result, there are now more than 100,000 Responders in the community. This is a significant achievement. But we want to increase the number further, so as to increase the chances of having a Responder nearby whenever emergencies happen.

16.   We have invited some active responders to join us this evening, in this hall as well as those who have joined us online.

17.   By signing up as a Responder, you have displayed already your willingness to step forward and to step up to help others in need. Your selflessness makes all the difference to our people around.

18.   There have been over 62,000 instances when you responded to activations to suspected cardiac arrest victims or minor fires. With your assistance, over 30 lives have been saved so far. One cardiac arrest survivor, Mr Ian Edema, is with us this evening and he will be sharing his story later on.

19.   Let me take this opportunity to express my heartfelt appreciation to all Responders for volunteering your time and your effort and your commitment in helping others.

Role of Community Partners

20.   Today, I would also like to thank our community partners, many of whom are present here tonight, for your strong support towards building a community of Responders. Let me share a few examples:

21.   The Red Cross Academy has been working with the SGSecure Programme Office to improve the programme, for example, by studying behavioural insights to more effectively encourage members of the public to step forward and to join as Responders.

22.   The Singapore Resuscitation and First Aid Council incorporated information on the myResponder app in the CPR-AED syllabus of their accredited training centres.

23.   Others such as the Ministry of Education, the Unit for Pre-Hospital Emergency Care at the Ministry of Health, Singapore Heart Foundation, Sport Singapore, National Youth Council, and Fraser Malls, I can’t name all of you, you have all partnered the SCDF and SGSecure Programme Office to raise awareness of the Responder initiatives within your own networks and circles of influence.

24.   I would also like to recognise the many other partners that will be receiving awards this evening. Let me thank all of you for your tremendous contributions.

Broadened Scope of SGSecure Responders

25.   Before I end, I would like to announce our plan to broaden the scope of SGSecure Responders.

26.   Currently, SGSecure Responders are only activated to respond to cases of cardiac arrest or minor fires near them. As explained earlier, these are features adopted from  SCDF’s myResponder app. This covers the first pillar of the SGSecure movement – “Staying Strong”.

27.   But there are other roles that SGSecure Responders can play, to better work closely together with the Home Team officers to prevent and deal with terror attacks.

28.   We will thus want to broaden the roles of SGSecure Responders to cover the other two pillars of the SGSecure movement – Staying Alert and Staying United.

29.   First, on Staying Alert. Responders can keep a lookout and report suspicious items and behaviours. This can easily be done – just “Point-Shoot-Send” – that is, you send photographs, images, videos, and details through the SGSecure app. Such reports, including early reporting of signs of radicalisation, can help authorities prevent an attack.

30.   Second, it’s about Staying United. Responders can help disseminate information and news from credible or official sources such as the SGSecure app, which will send out alerts on security related information and the latest updates from authorities in the event of major emergencies. This will help to mitigate the spread of misinformation during a crisis, and help the community to stay better informed and therefore more calm and united.

31.   These are roles that anyone can undertake. We hope that the broadening of the scope of SGSecure Responders will allow more people to join the network – in particular, those who may not yet have the confidence to perform CPR/AED or to put out fires in our neighbourhoods. Everyone can play a part, in different ways, to keep Singapore and our community safe and secure.

32.   So, for members of the public who have yet to do so, let me encourage you to take the first step and download the SGSecure app or myResponder app, and register to become a Responder. At the same time, please attend the SCDF’s Community Emergency Preparedness Programme to better equip yourselves with vital lifesaving skills. I know some of you are also worried about accidentally hurting someone in the process of performing CPR, or using the AED, and being blamed for doing something wrong unintentionally. Let me assure you that there is no need to worry about this – existing laws protect you so long as what you have done is done in good faith, and with reasonable care. Remember, every action counts. If you see someone in need, please step forward to help.


33.   In closing, the support from the community is critical to the Home Team’s work and I want to thank everyone who has responded so far in keeping Singapore strong, alert and united. First responders continue to make a difference between life and death.

34.   We will continue to press on with our efforts to raise community vigilance and emergency preparedness. Let us, together, continue to keep Singapore safe and secure.

35.   Thank you very much and have a good evening.