NParks considering first-aid facility on Pulau Ubin for cyclists

CHARLES LEE | 9th Apr 2015 | NEWS

In a bid to provide prompt medical attention to injured cyclists, Pulau Ubin may be having its very own first-aid facility, according to the National Parks Board (NParks). 

Responding to a media query by TODAY, NParks Director of Conservation Wong Tuan Wah said: “We are exploring a suggestion from residents and visitors to set up a first-aid facility on the island.”  This initiative is requested by the island’s residents and bicycle rental operators who say that they encountered an average of 20 accidents each month involving cyclists despite the warning signs that were erected in potentially dangerous spots to warn cyclists.  The Singapore Civil Defence Force said that it had responded to two cycling-related accidents on Pulau Ubin in 2014.  In 2013, it had responded to five cycling-related accidents.  

Dr Steven Lim, who heads the Changi General Hospital’s Accident and Emergency Department told TODAY that cycling injuries on Pulau Ubin can “range from moderate to severe with either head, facial, wrist, ankle or neck fractures from trauma”.

When TODAY visited Pulau Ubin in January this year, several cyclists were spotted riding down a slope near Belatok Hut at high speeds, ignoring safety signs that warn them to dismount and push their bicycles.  The NParks had installed close to 30 warning signs on Pulau Ubin.  Other measures such as the installation of notice boards at the jetty informing visitors of safe cycling practices and the colour-coding of trails of varying difficulty levels at the Ketam Mountain Bike Park were also implemented.

Although there are no available statistics on the total number of accidents involving cyclists on the island, TODAY understands that an approximate 2,000 visitors landed on Pulau Ubin each weekend and tourists, who formed the bulk of the visitors, are at greater risk of getting into cycling accidents due to their unfamiliarity with the local terrain. 

It appears that many are supporting the presence of the first-aid facility.  Mr Ewyn Lek, a staff at Comfort Bicycle Rentals, said: “It doesn’t have to operate daily, but maybe during peak periods such as public holidays or on weekends.”  Avid cyclist Mr Alvin Low suggested that the first-aid facility can be modelled after the mobile first-aid station.  Mr Michael, who is a visitor to the island, added that helmets should be mandated as compulsory for those who are cycling in Pulau Ubin.

Currently, injured cyclists can approach the NParks’ Ubin-HSBC Volunteer Hub and Chek Jawa Visitor Centre to seek medical attention.  The spokesperson for the police told TODAY that police officers and NParks staff who are deployed to the island have been certified to administer first-aid to casualties and they are equipped with a first-aid kit comprising basic items such as adhesive bandages and disinfectant solutions.  The spokesperson added that the casualty may be transported to the mainland on a Police Coast Guard patrol vessel if his or her injuries are serious and warranted immediate medical attention.

While NParks is looking into the feasibility of building a first-aid facility, Mr Wong added that several factors such as suitability and accessibility will be taken into consideration before deciding whether the facility should be constructed.  Meanwhile, he urged cyclists to exercise responsibility by wearing helmets and protective gear, observing the signs and adopting safe cycling practices.  He said: “Novice and younger cyclists should be accompanied by experienced, adult cyclists.