Five lauded for helping evacuate cinemagoers at Nex mall

The five youths who quickly helped evacuate cinemagoers and tended to two injured women after a ventilation duct fell from the ceiling during a movie were honoured for their actions yesterday.

Long-time friends Sebastian Koo, Quek Yew Hern, Edwin Ho, Venkat Raghavan Gowrishankar and Julian Tay, all 19, received the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) Community Lifesaver Award at Ang Mo Kio Fire Station.

The youths, who were all classmates at St. Gabriel’s Secondary School, had been watching the movie Tenet at Shaw Theatres at Nex mall when the ventilation duct fell at 4.45pm on Aug 30.

“My hands were shaking really badly because I was quite shocked about what was happening… but once Sebastian shouted, the rest of us got snapped out of our daze,” said Mr Tay, a polytechnic student interning as a journalist.

The other four are full-time national servicemen.

Mr Koo was the first to call for all moviegoers to evacuate, and he also found the two injured women outside the cinema hall and conducted an assessment for injuries.

“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. Mr Koo is trained in first aid, having been part of the Red Cross Youth in secondary school.

The youths said they were humbled and grateful to receive the award yesterday from Colonel Lim Han Chee, commander of the 3rd SCDF Division.

Mr Mark Shaw, director at Shaw Organisation, also attended the presentation.

Mr Venkat, who had called for an ambulance on the day, said: “I’m very grateful to receive this award because I feel we just did what we could in the spur of the moment to help out. It is nice to receive recognition for that.

“I’m also grateful that no one got severely injured.”

Mr Quek added: “Regardless of whether we are acknowledged for what we have done, anyone could have stepped up. It’s our duty to always help people and make sure that everyone is all right.”

Mr Shaw said: “Through their quick thinking, cinema patrons were safely evacuated. Their brave and selfless acts are indeed commendable and truly deserving of the SCDF Community Lifesaver Award.

“Their actions showed the importance of knowing what to do in an emergency and the difference it could make to save lives.”