A Friend in Need

Stephen George De Souza, a principal instructor at Singapore Red Cross Academy’s First Aid Training Centre, talks about his passion for caring for the sick and injured and the experiences he encounters while on duty.

Stephen De Souza’s interest in first aid was sparked during his National Service in 1978 when he signed up for the Combat Medical Orderly Course. Soon he was caring for those who fell ill in the army. In 1982, he enrolled as a student nurse and began his career as a state registered nurse in 1985. After graduating, he took up a post-basic nursing course in Critical Care Nursing to specialise in intensive nursing for critically ill patients. His attitude towards continuous learning and caring for others has led him to his current position as a principal instructor with the Red Cross.

Stephen wears his Red Cross badge with pride

The 57-year old says that his daily routine consists of conducting and assessing first aid training courses at Red Cross House or external venues. If he is not involved in actual training, he will be in his office developing or updating the course curriculum. When asked about his most memorable experience, he doesn’t hesitate: “It has to be the great Indian Ocean tsunami that struck Asia on Boxing Day 2004.” Stephen was a part of a medical disaster relief team sent to Sri Lanka in January 2005 and says: “It was an eye-opener to see how nature can cause terrible destruction. I recall watching a video clip that was taken just after the tsunami hit the country. It was not released to the media because it was too graphic. After watching it, the room was silent and some of us were crying. It was an emotional moment and it was saddening to see people suffering after losing their loved ones and homes.”

It's a wrap! Stephen oversees a lesson in bandaging

He recalls another occasion back home: “Once a fellow instructor was breathless and perspiring and I informed him that he might be having a heart attack.” Stephen and a colleague rushed him to the nearest clinic where the instructor collapsed. An ambulance was called and luckily, he reached the hospital on time.

Only recently, a young girl fainted in his church. With assistance from another member of the congregation, Stephen managed
to assess her condition and discovered that she had fainted owing to low sugar levels. He says: “I elevated her legs to promote blood circulation and also gave her sweet drink.” He was pleased that she became better and a doctor concurred that his treatment was accurate. Stephen has many such experiences and is always thankful to possess valuable skills that might save someone’s life.

He believes that learning first aid is important as we are not able to predict when an accident might happen – “It will be heart wrenching if that someone is a family member.” He adds: It’s like buying an insurance policy. You don’t know when you will need it and your family will be the main beneficiaries.”

First aid courses are easily available and you can find out more about them here or call 6664 0565.


Article reproduced with permission from The New Eurasian magazine, Jan - March 2016 issue.