Tuesday 11 December 2012

Common corridor clutter hampers 'medical evacuation'

By Poon Chian Hui, The Straits Times, 10 Dec 2012

RESIDENTS of Pasir Ris yesterday got a taste of what it would be like to navigate through a cluttered corridor to rescue someone.

Potted plants and shoes in their path made it tricky to push a stretcher down the 1.5m-wide corridor and then to bandage and carry a person to safety.

The point of this activity, organised by Pasir Ris West Community Emergency and Engagement and the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), is to remind residents to keep their corridors and lift lobbies clear of such items.

Such clutter can hamper medical evacuation and fire-fighting operations, as well as be fire hazards.

In May, two fires in HDB flats in a single weekend emphasised the danger of junk in such common areas.

Both fires were understood to have originated from discarded items left in lift landings.

Fire-safety guidelines for HDB estates stipulate that there must be an object-free passageway at least 1.2m wide along the corridors.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, an MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, said some residents are nonchalant when it comes to leaving items in the corridor. For example, they would say that it is "no problem" because he or she can still walk along the corridor, said Mr Teo, who is also the Minister for Home Affairs.

"Our residents need to understand that anybody can need an ambulance any time. And our SCDF officers may find it a challenge navigating through corridors that are crowded."

Six teams, each comprising four local residents, took part in this "vertical challenge" race yesterday at Pasir Ris Street 51.

A 66-year-old resident, who gave her name only as Madam Wee, said the event is a good reminder for fellow residents to be more considerate.

The retiree said she often encountered rubbish left along corridors. Some items, she said, could be very bulky, such as furniture.

"They didn't stop to think that their items will block other people's way," she said in Mandarin.

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