Photo credit: SCDF

Youths receive SCDF lifesaver award for assistance rendered during NEX cinema ventilation duct collapse

The five friends performed first aid on victims and helped in evacuation.

Jeremy Na

Just like that Khalid song, Young, dumb and broke. Ok maybe not dumb but definitely the other two.

Published: 26 October 2020, 5:25 PM

A collapsing ceiling is not what anyone might expect when watching a movie, but that is exactly what happened on Aug 30 when moviegoers at Shaw Theatres Nex were halfway through a screening of Tenet.

The dislodged ventilation duct fell into the mostly empty cinema hall, leaving many in the audience stunned. However, five brave young men leapt into action to assess the situation and assist with evacuations.

In recognition of their quick thinking at the scene of the accident, Sebastian Koo, Quek Yew Hern, Edwin Ho, Venkat Raghavan and Julian Tay were awarded the SCDF Community Lifesaver Award on Oct 25.

The award was presented by Commander 3rd SCDF Division Colonel Lim Han Chee at Ang Mo Kio fire station.

“I was in a stupor until Sebastian managed to shout and project his voice. It woke me up and pushed me to act,” said Edwin, who helped in the evacuation of the cinema hall with his four other friends.

Sebastian, a former Red Cross Youth cadet in secondary school, tended to the injured while Edwin assisted with evacuations. PHOTO CREDIT: SCDF


The five 19-year-olds have known each other since their time together in St. Gabriel’s Secondary School. With the exception of Julian, the rest are currently full-time national servicemen in the Singapore Armed Forces.

Upon noticing the staff attending to an injured patron, Sebastian, who is first-aid trained, offered his help in checking the casualty for injuries and making sure she was as comfortable as possible.

“I was concerned that there were injuries she might have missed or I might have missed. I was periodically checking again and again,” he said.

As Sebastian was administering first aid, Venkat called the ambulance while Yew Hern, Edwin and Julian assisted in evacuating patrons while also checking for other injured moviegoers.

Venkat was the first to call 995 and assisted Sebastian with the casualties. PHOTO CREDIT: SCDF


Julian was surprised at his own ability to react so quickly to the accident.

After the ventilation duct fell a few rows behind him, his hands continued to shake from fear. Despite that, he continued to look for any potential casualties that may have been trapped under the debris.

“Though I didn’t have first aid skills like Sebastian and Venkat, I tried to make sure that others were out of the cinema hall. We were the last to leave the hall so I looked under the rubble to make sure that there wasn’t anyone pinned under.”

“It’s what anyone would do after all: To ensure that no one was left behind before the SCDF came. If we had missed out anyone, it could’ve been too late by the time paramedics arrived,” he said.

Julian and Yew Hern checked the rubble for injured patrons and assisted with evacuations. PHOTO CREDIT: SCDF


Mr Mark Shaw, director of Shaw Organisation, was also present at the ceremony and described the quintet’s actions as “commendable and truly deserving of the SCDF Community Lifesaver Award”.

For anyone who might find themselves in a similar situation, Sebastian would like to offer some words of advice.

He said: “It’s normal to feel afraid that you might end up causing more harm than good for the casualty. It’s always a good rule of thumb to never attempt to do beyond what you were trained to do.”

“Even so, small gestures like calling for an ambulance or making sure the casualty is in a safe area can make the difference between life or death.”

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