Firefighters would usually come to mind first when people think of rescuing victims from burning houses.
But that was not on these police officers’ minds when they realised an elderly was stuck in a house raging with fire and thick smoke.
House Shrouded in Thick Smoke
On 16 April, a trio of police officers from the Serangoon Neighbourhood Police Centre were dispatched to a fire incident in Yio Chu Kang while on patrol nearby.
They were the first to reach the blazing scene around 6.10pm, said Sergeant Tan Wei Jie, 27, during an interview with the media on Monday (25 Apr).
The house was shrouded in thick black smoke from the fire and family members who had evacuated shouted to the officers that their grandmother was stuck on the second floor, he recounted.
Difficult to Breathe & Pain in Lungs
Sgt Tan and Sergeant Choong K-Ron, a 21-year-old full-time national serviceman (NSF), hurried into the burning house.
Meanwhile, another NSF on their team, Special Constable (SC) Muhammad Amru Abd Rahman, 21, managed the crowd outside.
Sgt Tan said their actions were out of “instinct”, adding that there was not much time to think before acting.
When the two police officers reached the second floor, visibility was low as it was close to pitch black even with a torch, said Sgt Tan.
After a few seconds, they had difficulty breathing and even felt some pain in their lungs.
However, it was not their own safety on their minds, but rather the survival of the grandmother who they knew would be having a much harder time breathing.
Crawled Through the Smoke
Unable to breathe through the thick smoke, the pair retreated to the stairs. At this point, Sgt Choong then suggested they crawl through the smoke, recalling fire safety tips he had learnt in the past.
On all fours, they shuffled through the smoke, yelling for the grandmother.
Finally, the two saw her feet from under the smoke, staggering towards them. Immediately, they stood up and grabbed her from the side before supporting her as they headed down to the ground floor.
Their faces blackened with soot, the officers handed the grandmother over to the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) paramedics who had arrived.
Sgt Tan estimated the rescue took a few minutes. He added that the grandmother did not say much and looked rather dazed but relieved that she was brought to safety.
Fire is Put Out
In a statement to The Straits Times, an SCDF spokesman said it was alerted to the fire at 6.05pm.
The fire involved the contents of a bedroom on the second floor and SCDF personnel put out the fire using a water jet and compressed air foam.
One person suffered smoke inhalation injuries and was taken to Singapore General Hospital, said the spokesman, adding that the cause of the fire was being investigated.
It is understood that the grandmother is well.
Memorable Experience for NSFs
Sgt Choong, who went above and beyond his duty, is set to complete his full-time national service in May.
He said there was no time to speak to the woman or her family during the incident as they needed to evacuate the nearby homes.
The incident also marked an eventful first patrol for SC Amru, who had only completed eight months of police training earlier in April.
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Featured Image: Singapore Police Force
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