Red Cross Memories: Wilson Boey

I have been with Red Cross Youth since primary school. I perceive volunteering with the Red Cross as not only an act of philanthropy; it has also become a way of life for me. When I was young, I had a strong desire to help people in need. Inspired by the Red Cross symbol as it represented a beacon of light and a source of hope for the vulnerable, I chose to join the Red Cross. That was many years ago and I never looked back since.

Fresh out of school in 1973, I started out as a volunteer with the Open Unit of the Singapore Red Cross. The Open Unit was established for graduating cadets to join the headquarters. In 1976, I volunteered with the Public Duties department of the Voluntary Aid Detachment. I continued to do what I used to do as a Red Cross Youth member – providing first aid coverage to participants at major sports and national events such as the National Day Parade. My experience in first aid as a youth member came in useful as I was able to provide timely help to the event participants in times of emergencies.

There were times when I took care not only of the event participants, but also the general public. I recall an incident at a first aid duty for the National Day Parade where I sent a boy sustaining head injuries to the hospital on the ambulance. The boy had sustained his injury at home and his father was trying to bring him to the hospital on a taxi. As the road was closed for the National Day Parade and the boy’s injury was quite serious, the traffic police at the road block asked me if I could bring the boy to the hospital on the Red Cross ambulance as it could access the closed road. Seeing as the boy needed help, and I was in a position to, I readily complied.

Being a volunteer with the Red Cross, I had the opportunity to witness first-hand, the aftermath of a disaster. I was involved in the rescue and recovery efforts following the Spyros disaster in 1978, where we supported the emergency services in providing first aid to the injured and counting the number of fatalities. It was the first time that I saw dead bodies, many of them burnt beyond recognition. I was only 21 years old at the time, and the experience left a lasting impression on me, and strengthened my resolve as a volunteer to help those in need.

My work at the Singapore Red Cross was not limited to providing first aid to the injured. As the Assistant Director (First Aid and Emergency Preparedness) for the Red Cross Youth, I was an event planner and a policy-maker. As part of the team of volunteers organising the National First Aid Competition in 2014, it was truly a satisfying experience for me to be able to nurture and mentor the younger generation of volunteers.

Having been with the Singapore Red Cross for so many years, first as a Red Cross Youth member then as a volunteer, Red Cross has become more than a passion. Whenever I drive past Red Cross House, it has become second nature for me to drop by and catch up with my fellow volunteers, even if it is for a short while. This is because Red Cross is an organisation like no other – it is a community where we give and help.