NSF Dave Lee's death leads to improvements in heat injury management, prevention in SAF

SINGAPORE – Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) full-time national serviceman (NSF), Private Dave Lee Han Xuan, 19, died in 2018 after suffering from heatstroke. He was promoted to Corporal First Class after his death.

A five-member panel was convened in May 2018 to review the SAF’s existing strategy for heat injury prevention and management.

Since August 2018, the SAF has expanded the use of an arm immersion cooling system and purpose-built cooling pads to tackle heat injury.

Arm immersion is a preventive measure where soldiers dip their arms into iced water for between 15 and 30 seconds to help cool their core body temperature, done during rest periods in training and after training.

Purpose-built cooling pads, which can be stuck on the body, help to cool a suspected heat injury casualty.

In September last year, the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) said the SAF had introduced enhancements to its heat injury management and prevention measures.

These include implementing a simplified evacuation protocol; improving heat injury awareness among commanders and medics; enhancing existing cooling and heat injury prevention measures; and strengthening an open reporting culture.

It added: “Mindef and the SAF will continue to review and identify ways to strengthen our safety management and training system, with the goal of achieving zero training fatalities.”

Other measures taken in the wake of CFC Lee’s death include rolling out a new training safety regulation for all commanders and medics to evacuate every trainee who cannot respond to simple questions on time, place and identity.

Mindef also said that that six servicemen who were charged in military court in relation to CFC Lee’s death were fined for their roles in the incident.

A seventh serviceman, Captain Tan Baoshu, 33, who was the supervising officer of the fast march, was granted a discharge not amounting to an acquittal last January after being diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. He died in February last year.

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