Volunteering has been a part of Anthony Chandren’s life for as long as he can remember. Chandren first started helping Hindu temple priests when he was 18. “I started volunteering even before I started nursing,” said Chandren, who has been working as a nurse at Singapore General Hospital’s (SGH) Emergency Department (ED) for the past 34 years.

When patients arrive at the ED, Chandren is one of the nurses who determines the severity of their symptoms at the triage point, so that the more serious cases are attended to immediately. He performs nursing procedures, administers medication and also assists doctors with various medical procedures at the ED.

On his days off, Chandren volunteers with the medical support service of the Hindu Endowments Board (HEB). The service, which he started with a few other volunteers in 1993, prepares and attends to medical emergencies at all major events. It also organises a largescale Health Fair, which provides free medical screening, medical counselling and a medical forum to educate the public on various medical conditions.

At the ED, Chandren handles patients across a wide range of disciplines. This clinical experience and training has proven to be invaluable to the medical support service as he is responsible for planning and preparing the medical bags and other logistics for the medical support team at major Hindu festivals such as Thaipusam and Firewalking organised by the HEB. Beyond that, he has also grown a volunteer network of over 235 nurses and 12 doctors from various healthcare institutions in Singapore whom he can tap on to help at these events.

Of the many people that he has attended to over the decades as a volunteer at the HEB, Chandren vividly remembers a patient he helped in 2019. “One of the devotees slipped and fell on the fire pit while firewalking and 60% of his body was badly burnt,” Chandren recounted. This was the worst case he had encountered; most casualties suffer from minor burns on their soles while firewalking. Thanks to Chandren’s training as a nurse, he was able to treat the devotee promptly before the devotee was sent to the hospital via the ambulance on standby. “I was very happy we saved him. Once he got well, he came to the temple to thank us,” Chandren shared.

For his contributions to the HEB, Chandren has been recognised with a Commendation Award, an Achievement Award and an Excellence Award. The Commendation and Achievement Awards were given to him for serving as a volunteer for five and 10 years respectively, while the Excellence Award was for his exemplary and longservice as a volunteer.

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