Facility certification post-MSK

Everyone has weighed in over Mas Selamat Kastari‘s (MSK) escape. That ST’s crime desk did not take the lead in favour of political scribes had me reluctant to rely on their news. But there has been no shortage of alternative news. However, even when skimming, I have encountered enough faulty assumptions to realise this requires some dedicated attention which I haven’t invested in. So conversations with friends kicks in as the best pointer to worthy information.

As I floated above the buzz, I must admit I initially thought the noise about ISD’s incompetence was overhyped. So I was indeed shocked by the story behind the sawn-off window handle and the picture depicting the lack of clearance for the perimeter wall. Yes it will certainly take a while before this is lived down. Had we late night shows, the fodder this provides will probably rank in popularity of use to Cheney’s shooting incident amongst US talk shows. Most know the basic facts so even mild allusions would work. With everyone’s renovation contractor woes, they can all appreciate the size of the problem that even the dreaded even ISD can’t get a grille installed even when they try. Or maybe it was really about the price of steel. You get an inkling of the private conversations.

So now Home Affairs will probably ask the relevant people in Prisons to certify any detention facility that ISD has set up and get involved in the planning phase of new facilities. And then have an independent company certify and audit the premises. We will need facilities fit for the detention of a higher grade of criminal that we seem to be acquiring, post 9-11. These boys aren’t just hungering for hawker fare.

The biology labs we maintain in campus these days are subject to something similar. A lab’s safety level classification depends on the sort of germ (or chemical, etc) they deal with. The premises and occupants have to be certified fit to cope with this and are also audited for their ability to safely cope with their threatening occupants.

As I chatted with a rueful friend from the police a many weeks ago, I did argue that the escape was not without its advantages. The perpetual problem of maintaining alertness and vigilance over an extended incident-free period just got a boost – even in areas like safety and fire response. It no longer seems alarmist to take what are actually just adequate steps. Even the exam invigilation announcement I sent out on Monday had suitable MSK innuendoes. Everyone came really early to my satisfaction and prepared themselves with the contingency plans.

And as the discussion about the MSK escape rages on, other issues are being exposed and many are being attended to. I just hope we will not need to pay too high a cost eventually. Meanwhile, I too wonder where he is – the forest or safely encased in a supporter’s house observing all our reactions on tv and the internet?

A folder of pdfs

While wondering why the YEP site was down (its a pdf-manageement software) I recalled smart folders which I use quite often in Mail. The I stumbled on planetmike’s suggestion:

  1. On the Mac, in the Finder, create a new “Smart Folder” [File menu, New Smart Folder]).
  2. Set the “Kind” to be “PDF”
  3. Remove the second rule by clicking the minus on the left.
  4. In the top of the window, choose where to search, by default it will search your entire computer.
    • E.g. For desktop files only hit “Others” and added my desktop to the list, then I unchecked the “Computer” option. I hit “OK.”
  5. Then hit the “Save” button” and name the search something makes sense.
  6. Choose the option to save the search in the Sidebar.

In future searches, you can restrict the search to this pdf folder so it is useful for frenzied, repeated searches (i.e. during lecture preparation):

There was some chatter about using iTunes but I did not get it to work for me. I also have iView. YEP is a neat package designed for pdf but they do charge US$35 – enough to make you twitch. And if you are going interested in bibliographic management software, well, those are more costly. However, I tackle another round of lectures in August, and that means revisiting last year’s literature compilation and finding new (and old) ones. So YEP looks to be worth it, in combination with a sychronised folder.

Argh! It’s a hornet?! (No, it’s only a mummy potter wasp)

A student of mine was MSN-ing me questions about out module and when she finished told me about a recent incident in her house. A flying insect was building a nest in their home and they were nervous about it. After a few calls describing the nest, they were told it was a hornet’s nest. With her mum freaking out anyway, her dad closed the windows to prevent repeat visits of the insect and destroyed the nest. They found blue and green grub inside.

So she asked me about it and I told her about potter wasps. She sent me these photos and its identity was confirmed – a potter wasp mummy!

So I explained essentially that the harmless mummy wasp had been building each cell by harvesting little clay bits from around the estate – you can see where she dropped some bits. Two of the cells were complete and she was working on a third. She would have been hunting for caterpillars to paralyse with her venom and transport back to the third cell. This fresh meat is for the as yet unhatched egg she would lay later. The “blue and green grub” they saw in the broken down cells were probably the prey. Finally when all the cells are complete, mummy wasp will cement the lot up and fly away.

I pointed her to my old blog posts on potter wasps, including the one at my door in 2005. She found it fascinating! It was a pity she was not able to observe the process to completion – if successful, she would have eventually seen a tiny hole announcing the emergence of the young wasp. But she explained, harmless or not, her mum was freaking out anyway! It’s not an uncommon reaction for urban Singaporeans. Perhaps if she tells her mum the story, it might make a difference if a wasp ever visits again one day.

I’m waiting for a revisit!

Thansk to yels.

CPR and AED familiarisation


Last Wednesday I attended a CPR and AED familiarisation course at NUS’ SRC Dance Studio. I went partly to decide if it should be suggested to the biodiversity group.

The relative incompetence of the class (myself included) dissipated during the two hours spent on CPR and AED. The 30 mins of practical training with a mannequin and AED device helped considerably and the fact everyne was serious. There was one joker who probably felt awkward about the drills but my group simply ignored him and kept their focus.

The practise sessions were conducted in small groups at a 1:5 ratio due to instructors from OSHE, Wellness and a few other places. It made for a modest but effective session with all objectives achieved.

While this was definitely not a first aid course the two hour session equips individuals to provide proper CPR assistance to family or lab members – correct administration of CPR pushes blood to the brain in lieu of a pumping heart and improves the chances of victim survival. Furthermore the supportive role of AED is clarified to the class as it does not replace CPR. The person conducting CPR really needs to stay focused until the AED is setup, and the patient prepared before the AED users informs him its setup. Improper use or knowledge may impede assistance and possibly even contribute problems so even this short training is critical.

Bondi lifeguards apply CPR and use the AED – the whole sequence right to recovery position.
And what a relief when they say, “It’s okay mate…” and Takahiro Ono remembers his name!
Taken from Bondi Rescue Series 1, Ep 4 (2006) and Australian Screen’s Teacher’s Notes.

I recall Keropokman went for an AED introductory session last November. That was not enough so he needs to go for a session like this one :-). Just like we intend for the staff and graduate students in the biodiversity group to attend this as well.

Collectively the instructors who conduct the training are able to effectively answer all the queries posed, which were certainly varied! Doesn’t the plastic suffocate the patient? Sessions are comfortably conducted at the SRC Dance Studio, opposite YIH in groups of 20. NUS staff can book a session through this webpage. You’ll find yourself much more confident after.

There have been two casualties of heart failure of some sort in NUS last year. One to whom first aid was applied but it was just his time, and another who did not receive any CPR assistance. We regret their loss and the CPR and AED course is one step in improving the capability of colleagues.

The AED unit near my block is located in the loading bay between S2 and S1A.

In the video above, it was lucky the lifeguards all happened to be nearby; it’s used for teaching in many schools now, including this NUS course! For further inspiration, read about our own Esther Tan: “Student saves heart attack man in Holland Road,” by Ong Rui Lin. The Electric New Paper, 26th February 2006. ‘I was still shaking back in school’. And see “When Hearts Stop: CPR & Defibrillators”.

NTU Bike Rally 2008 preparations

I got most of cycling kakis to ensure they registered for the NTU Bike Rally 2008 and the cheque for Joelle finally posted off last week.

I was ill in March, then it was Lekowala’s turn recently and in between I lost some precious Saturday mornings to coastal cleanup preparatory work and other volunteer projects. End result – no km clocked at all since February I believe!

So its time to get reacquainted with the bike. Morning route possibilities include Kranji Reservoir, Changi Village and Marina South before hitting NUS – definitely next week when its all exams and marking. So I better stick some clothes in the office.

I will also be joining May’s practice rides which escalate distances each week until we are ready for the 128km ride.

Dealing with stress

NUS’ Counselling Centre highlights their Exam Anxiety webpage in the weeks leading to the exams.

Besides the peak period focus, students under excessive stress aren’t out my mind the rest of the semester. I adopt strategies in each module, integrate those into the teaching. A balance has to be struck with module standards but it is usually complimentary.

To maintain my awareness and alertness, I talk to teacher-friends armed with case study histories, discuss some aspects with friends on my mailing lists, reflect on past incidents and read some journal papers. This helps me to maintain an appreciative grasp of the issue over the years. Now that I actually have time to prepare my teaching, I want to consult the pros!

So after the Faculty of Science workshop, “Teaching is OUR Priority” last Friday, I way-layed the Counseling Centre’s head for a quick chat. I will drop in after clearing the exams so examine strategies and get advice about those and profiles. I am certainly looking forward to the consult – my previous session was a long time ago at Changi Village after a Pedal Ubin ride. One of the staff attended the ride and I ran a bunch of stuff by him – the benefits of being a guide!

It’s important to think about and review pre-emptive measures every year, just as we should do for fire and field safety. And you have to try look for loopholes. I find that exercise useful for teaching methods as well. Since I have field safety guidelines to pen, May is going to be safety month!

See “Struggles of Students Today,” by Ann-Marie Lew. Alumnus, Apr 2007.