Building a stronger community through outreach and care

It took Mr Freddy Neo, an ExxonMobil employee, almost two years to recover fully from burns he suffered from an industrial accident in 2001.

At that time, a senior ExxonMobil executive was making regular visits to a colleague's young son who was in the SGH Burns Ward for medical treatment. The boy, whose father was based in the Philippines at that time, had been badly scalded after falling into a hot spring. He came to Singapore seeking treatment.

Mr Neo and another burns patient SAF Major Ang Ming Chuan - who survived the SQ006 crash in Taipei - saw the need for a support group for burns patients like themselves and the boy.

Said Mr Neo: "When we were injured we find that recovering from burns took a long time and there is no medicine that can help a burns patient except he himself that needs to go through therapy and exercises and putting on pressure garment diligently to suppress the scars."

"We were looking for answers. Like how long recovery was going to take. We wanted to hear from other survivors about their experiences and how they coped with their recovery."

The seeds for a formal support group were sown. In 2003, the Singapore General Hospital, with funding and help from ExxonMobil, established the Total Burns Care Programme.

Burns Support Group

As part of the Programme, a Burns Support Group (BSG) for burns victims and their families was set up. Launched officially on 17 April 2004, the BSG provides support to and encouragment burns patients in the hospital through chit-chat sessions. For some of these burns patients, the support group provides the added motivation they need to see through the long rehabilitation period.

In addition, the Programme's objectives include providing public education and awareness on skin donation, burns management and prevention. An Exxon Mobile Burns and Trauma Fund was also set up to provide financial assistance and relief fund for burns and trauma patients.

For the past five years, ExxonMobil has provided close to $200,000 in funding for the SGH Total Burns Care Programme, which includes funding for the Skin Culture Lab and the BSG.

ExxonMobil Asia Pacific Pte Ltd Public Affairs Manager Loh Pin Chuan said the support for the Programme was part of its corporate citizenship outlook. He added: "But what have really kept this programme going are the volunteers who are passionate about what they do in seeking to help others facing issues similar to those they had faced; and the strong support from SGH's doctors and staff who have been running it."

To share your experience, visit Burns Online Support Group Forum.