If you've ever wondered what it's like working at an MRT station, here's a list of things that assistant station managers do:
- Security checks
- Station equipment checks
- Attending to passengers' needs and queries
Occasionally, they also help to save lives.
At least, that's what 36-year-0ld Abdul Azim Abdul Azizam has done in his day's work as an assistant station manager at Hougang MRT station.
Found a crying woman
At around 9:45pm sometime in October 2018, Azim was making his rounds at the street level of the MRT station.
That's when he saw a woman sitting down, sobbing by herself.
Fearing that she might have injured herself from a fall, he approached her to extend a helping hand (and some tissues).
However, it wasn't a hand that she needed. It was a shoulder to cry on.
"She told me that she was facing a relationship issue. She found out that her future husband — a man she was going to marry one week later — was having an affair."
Saved from suicide
She also told him that she wanted to be with her parents but unfortunately, she couldn't as the both of them are no longer around.
He said: "That's when I felt that something was amiss. So I continued to talk to her for about 30 minutes before she was ok and we parted ways."
Life went on as usual for Azim, until five days later when he received a handwritten letter from that lady.
In the letter, she apparently thanked him for being there for her as she had intentions to take away her own life the night he found her.
When asked if he felt like a hero, he laughed it off and said: "No lah, I was just at the right place, at the right time."
This, however, wasn't the only time he saved a life.
Revived an unconscious man
During a morning peak hour in June 2018, Azim was helping to service a machine when he received a flustered call from one of his colleagues, Simon Fong.
An elderly man fainted in front of the platform screen doors as a result of a cardiac arrest, and they needed his assistance to help the man regain consciousness.
Thankfully, his lifesaving skills were still fresh on his mind as the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) NSman had just returned from reservist.
"My colleague checked his pulse first and the man didn't have any so I told him to get the defibrillator. Since there wasn't any pulse, I had to perform cardiopulmonary respiration (CPR) on him but got tired after 10 minutes and then a female passenger took over."
He shared with me that at this point, he started to be more anxious especially when there were many eyes looking at him on a busy weekday morning: "Doing CPR on a dummy and doing it on a human is very different. Some more, there were many people surrounding us and taking videos."
Grateful to live
When the defibrillator arrived, he was even more determined to save the man's life.
He confirmed that there was no sign of a heartbeat on the machine and administered a shock to the man's chest.
Thankfully, once was all it needed to revive the man's heartbeat. and Azim continued to perform CPR on the man until the paramedics arrived.
That wasn't the end of this story, though.
They heard that the man was progressively recovering in the intensive care unit and visited him the following week when he was transferred to a general ward.
“He was lying there, and his wife told him that we were there to visit him. He got up and held our hands with both hands; the feeling is really indescribable.”
Transport Gold recipient
Even though his job has put him through heart-stopping (literally) situations, he smiled and said he enjoys what he does.
As an assistant station manager at Hougang MRT station for the past three years, he looks forward to doing his job and meeting new people every day.
And it seems like regular passengers enjoy meeting him too.
"It's also nice you know, when passengers recognise me and then smile and ask about my day."
For someone who was formerly in the logistics industry, working at an MRT station is a breath of fresh air: "I may do the same thing all the time, but it's a different experience every single day."
Because of his efforts in the past year, Azim became one of the 26 recipients of the Transport Gold Outstanding award at this year's National Kindness Award - Transport Gold ceremony.
He shared that he was a little embarrassed when his colleagues teased him after the win.
Even passengers congratulated him after seeing him on the news.
But a big part of him felt proud to be nominated, especially when his daughter considers him her "hero":
"When my daughter saw me on television, she was very excited and said 'Daddy is on TV!'"
Azim doesn't let his achievements get to his head, though.
To him, helping and being nice to others is just another day at work.
"It's my work. It's just the nature of my job to render help to passengers in need."
Top image by Faris Samri