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Launch of SMRT- Temasek Cares AED on Wheels

100 AED-equipped SMRT Taxis to ply Singapore roads

1. SMRT Taxis and Temasek Cares, supported by Singapore Heart Foundation (SHF), Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), National Fire and Civil Emergency Preparedness Council (NFEC) and the National Taxi Association (NTA), today launched the SMRT – Temasek Cares AED on Wheels programme.  Minister Chan Chun Sing, Prime Minister’s Office and Secretary-General of the National Trade Union Congress, was the Guest of Honour at this event. 

2. This is a three-year pilot programme where 100 SMRT taxis have Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs)1 installed in their vehicles. These specially-equipped taxis will increase the availability of AEDs in the community.  In the event of sudden cardiac arrest, an AED can be delivered quickly to the scene, thus helping to improve the chances of survival for the victim.  The programme to ‘mobilise’ AEDs through taxis on such a scale is a first-of-its-kind in Southeast Asia.

3. Participating SMRT taxi drivers will be alerted, through the myResponder mobile app, by SCDF’s 995 Emergency Call Centre, of cardiac arrest cases within a 1.5-kilometre radius of their taxi’s location. Drivers who are able to respond will confirm their participation through the app (up to a maximum of 2 taxis) and drive the taxi to deliver the AED to the specified location. 

4. Participating taxi drivers are trained by SHF on the use of the AED, as well as proper cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) techniques. In a cardiac arrest case, the taxi drivers will be able to support the community first responders already at the scene reviving the victim.  

5. Mr Richard Magnus, Temasek Cares Chairman, said, “Immediate attention is critical when a person’s heart stops. His or her life can be saved.  CPR can make a big difference. Aided by the use of an AED – an electronic device which helps restart the heart – many lives can be saved.  The SMRT – Temasek Cares AED on Wheels initiative will increase the availability of AEDs in the community.  I am proud of this pioneer batch of SMRT taxi drivers who have volunteered for this meaningful programme to build community resilience.”

6. Mr Desmond Kuek, SMRT President and Group CEO said, “This landmark partnership between SMRT Taxis, Temasek Cares, Singapore Heart Foundation, the Singapore Civil Defence Force, and National Fire and Civil Emergency Preparedness Council makes every AED-equipped SMRT taxi a potential life-saver. In situations involving cardiac arrest, every minute counts. Given the distance and the area covered by our taxi drivers daily, they would be better placed to render assistance as community first responders. The AED on Wheels programme is a meaningful initiative to equip our taxi drivers with the necessary skills and equipment to make a positive impact on society and, most importantly, help to save lives.”

7. In 2014, cardiovascular disease accounted for 29.9% of all deaths in Singapore. Sudden cardiac arrest can happen anytime, anywhere and to anyone, and so expedient and appropriate use of the AED is key, when responding to cardiac emergencies. With the AED on Wheels programme, SHF wants to empower taxi drivers with up-to-date knowledge, skills and confidence to perform CPR effectively and safely,” said Mr Vernon Kang, Chief Executive Officer of the Singapore Heart Foundation.

8. Mr Alan Loh, Chairman of NFEC, said, “If someone has a cardiac arrest, the fastest response is actually the help you can get from a bystander. The myResponder mobile app leverages on this ‘bystander effect’ by linking a network of trained community first responders who are able to respond quickly to cardiac arrest cases in the community alerting them to the nearest available AEDs prior to the arrival of the ambulance. With robust community response, we are closer to building ‘a Nation of Lifesavers,’ where the community renders prompt assistance to our loved ones, neighbours and strangers during an emergency. We applaud SMRT for its strong support towards this noble cause and look forward to the participation of more public transport operators.”

9. SMRT taxi driver Mr Simon Ngiam Shu Leng, 45, one of the participants of the programme, said, “I was very interested to take part in this project when I first heard about it. To be able to play an active role in society by saving lives is very important. You will never know when you can provide emergency aid to someone who needs it urgently when you are plying the roads.” 

10. Temasek Cares is providing a grant of $376,500 to support the SMRT – Temasek Cares AED on Wheels programme from the Temasek Emergency Preparedness Fund (T-PREP Fund) as part of its ‘Stay Prepared’ initiative. If the pilot is successful, the programme will be extended to more taxis in the community. 

1An Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is a portable device that checks the heart rhythm. It can also send an electric shock to the heart to try to restore a normal rhythm, in cases of cardiac arrests.