Saturday, June 01, 2013

Le Sigh

I've kinda made exceptions to posting happier and more inspirational stuff on my blog recently, and this one is another:

Why am I not surprised?

Ignore the title for the moment - it is true, but that really isn't the thrust of the person's story. The deeper issue really is with the lack of empathy in the field, and all around. It also shows that our security and rescue services are less concerned with helping and comforting the individuals who face emergencies, and more with the elimination of danger to the public.

The comments that followed were really what irked me (both associated with the article and on a friend's facebook share):
You have no one to blame but yourself. You go to far-flung secluded areas and expect help to arrive in an instant. You don't have a fire extinguisher in your vehicle, despite it being essential to your work. It doesn't cost much and you send it for servicing every year. And you probably don't even pay for insurance which is why you're here whining and trying to get sympathy and rile up the crowd for assistance in pursuing what you wrongfully perceive to be your right.



More importantly, why are you writing some emotional rant and not figuring out how your van caught on fire under normal circumstances.
 I consider that douchebag a troll. "TheRealSingapore" really is a rant site for the most part, as a result, it attracts its share of pro- and anti-establishment trolls. This story sounds genuine however, and it annoys me to see responses like his, even if he is a troll.

And then, there's my friend on Facebook:
For goodness sake, learn the correct numbers to call. For fire, it is 995.
My question would have been - "Shouldn't our services coordinate on these matters?" Does it really cost us that much to incorporate (given what big stickler for "rules" people are in Singapore) kindness and support for individuals in distress in our rescue services? After all in the US, the Police, Fire Service and Ambulance Service will show up in a coordinated manner as is appropriate on a 911 call (Note: People rescued by the Ambulance Services have to pay ... quite a bit!). At the same time, it is important to rescue services here to keep in touch with the victims to keep them calm, to give them comfort that help is on the way, and to guide them on what they might like to do. On scene, there will typically be someone to check on any injuries or trauma and to offer comfort and help to the victims. The way the victim in the article described their scenario, they pretty much just got stonewalled. On scene, imho the treatment they took was more in line with "troublemaker" than with "victim". I'm not even sure they were interested in figuring out how the vehicle caught fire, or with preserving the evidence so insurance services could establish if or how much should be given to the victims.

In any event, that was just speculation on my part. What is more certain is that the responses from both the troll and my friend highlight a far deeper problem with Singapore society - your lives and experiences as individuals in this country really do not matter unless you are a close friend, or family. While in this particular instance the sample size of responses is 2-2 so far (of nasty vs compassionate), my own anecdotal experiences with society in Singapore tell me that the nastiness expressed is far more common and pervasive than I am comfortable with.

Edit: In a manner quite atypical of Singaporeans, I decided I was annoyed enough to publicly rip my friend a new one on Facebook. Not that he respects me enough to care, quite frankly. I expect a rejoinder soon.

Edit #2: Another friend has chimed in - again in the same, most disappointing manner. My faith in my lack-of-faith in my society is reinforced:

No, but the whole post is about complains, and I would have less sympathy when that happens. He made it sound like its all SCDF fault for coming so late (the nearest SCDF station I think is at Tampines, and Changi Coast is not exactly near if you consider the route) and we don't know what he told the control centre especially when you are distress you might not make it clear to the control centre officer. I would be more concerned with safety than the dog food or the badly burnt van.


Kevin Jang said...

It always baffled me that in various movies produced in South Korea and the USA (and even in the real context in Canada), firemen would allow survivors of fires and accidents like these to sit in the back of the trucks, and settle down after the trauma of the accident, while it seemed almost absent from Singapore. But you are absolutely right about Singapore's lack of empathy in this context. A lot of people love to direct the blame to the sufferer and survivor when the situation does not even have any blame whatsoever involved per se as it is. Stupid remarks like, "you brought this upon yourself by not being careful", are more self-righteous than anything else.

Chee Wai Lee said...

yah ... and it shouldn't even matter if the person involved was at fault, unless it was criminal.