The Care Journal : First Aid of a Different Kind

Emergency Preparedness

First Aid of a Different Kind

Many organisations have in place a business continuity plan, but not every one is prepared to handle the psychological and emotional fallout that result from an emergency. 

To help businesses stay prepared, Temasek Foundation launched the ‘Stay Prepared - Business Psychological Resilience Programme’ (B-PREP) in 2016, in partnership with Changi General Hospital (CGH). The aim of the programme is to help companies assess their psychological readiness and train employees with the necessary skills to manage crises. 

The three-year programme benefitted 400 employees from local companies. With the completion of the B-PREP model and training pedagogy, the programme is currently in Phase 2, where its framework and training are being introduced to religious organisations in Singapore. 

Being prepared, Staying Prepared

People are at the heart of a business. That is why training employees with the skills to provide psychological first aid is one of the key components of B-PREP. As Mr Jason Loy, Head Operations, Singapore, CapitaLand Retail and Group Safety & Security Officer at CapitaLand Group explains, “For a business to stay resilient, employees need to be resilient as well. In order to do that, it’s good for them to go through such a B-PREP programme, to be well-informed, well-trained, so that they can deal with a crisis and recover from the trauma quickly.”

Echoing his sentiment, Ms Doreen Chan, Head of Administration and Business Processes at Mapletree said, “B-PREP has helped Mapletree in multiple aspects. One of the aspects would be the training provided, where we had professionals from Changi General Hospital bring in the models from the US and tailor them to suit Singapore’s needs.” And in case there is any doubt, she added that “B-PREP is not just for larger organisations, but also an important initiative that smaller organisations could adopt”.

Providing emotional support to commuters in an emergency

As a public transport operator serving two million commuter journeys daily, SMRT Corporation knows how important it is to have staff trained with the right skills to support commuters and employees affected by an incident. That is why it has in place a Care Team to handle such situations. 

Derrick Poh and Cheong Vin Mei are part of SMRT’s more-than-70 strong CARE unit. They are learning and development officers in the company, but when a situation kicks, they take on the role of Care Officers and may be called upon to visit commuters affected by incidents in hospitals, to provide emotional support. 

B-PREP also provides frameworks for group crisis interventions and strategic responses to critical incidents, both of which are paramount for a company like SMRT. Derrick, who coordinates the deployment of manpower in the event of an emergency, said, “We run a public service, so our readiness is very important to the people of Singapore. B-PREP makes us more cognizant of other factors that we didn’t consider before, for example, what to look out for in affected commuters in the first 24 hours, as well as the recommended intervals for follow-ups.”

“The training is not just theoretical; there was a lot of role playing,” said Derrick. Vin Mei added, “During role playing, we could apply the skill sets. I still keep all the notes from the training with me. When I’m deployed, I’ll have a quick glance at what has been taught, just to refresh my memory. So this is my emergency tool that I can refer to any time I’m deployed.” Indeed, the training came in handy for Vin Mei during a deployment where she had to tend to an injured commuter. “Using the techniques taught, I was able to calm her down, understand her concerns and provide recommendations for further assistance.”

The skills learnt are not limited to the workplace, however. 

“How do you approach someone who is facing a personal crisis? Before B-PREP, I used to say ‘Don’t worry. I know how you feel’,” said Derrick. “But after the training, I learnt not to say that, because you don’t really know how the person is feeling. Psychological first aid is a skill set that equips us, even when we're not working, to help friends and family who are going through a personal crisis. These skills stay with us for life.”

Hear from businesses which have implemented B-PREP: