SINGAPORE: In the wake of the tragic passing of Pranav Madhaik, a Secondary 2 student from Singapore Sports School’s (SSP) badminton academy, SSP is collaborating with the Ministry of Culture, Community, and Youth (MCCY) to conduct a comprehensive review of their safety policies and protocols, facilitated by an expert panel, to enhance safety measures.
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong said this in a written response on Monday (6 Nov) to Nominated MP Razwana Begum Abdul Rahim’s parliamentary question on whether the ministry is considering reviewing policies and procedures in place at the school.
Pranav, a 14-year-old member of the national intermediate squad, experienced a decline in health following a 400-metre fitness time trial at school on 5 October 2023, and tragically passed away six days later on 11 October 2023, at the National University Hospital (NUH).
Mr Tong said, “Pranav’s unfortunate passing, the loss of a young life with so much potential, has been a sad occasion, and a deep shock to all of us.”
He emphasized that SSP has implemented thorough safety policies and protocols to ensure the well-being of student-athletes, with all staff and student-athletes receiving training and guidance to actively safeguard student safety.
He further elaborated that SSP develops a set of comprehensive policies and procedures, based on the Ministry of Education (MOE) school safety handbook which covers various scenarios that might arise, including student safety, medical emergencies and return to training protocols after injuries or sickness.
As with all MOE schools, SSP is subject to External Safety Validation, which includes checks on safety protocols, processes, equipment, personnel, training, risk assessment and management, simulation exercises, and reviews.
Mr Tong also disclosed the school management conducts checks and collects feedback from student-athletes and parents annually and as appropriate to ensure a culture of compliance with all safety procedures and protocols.
He added that there is also a whistle-blowing policy for staff to report wrongful practices involving SSP employees and members of the public can also report any breach of safety policy or procedure by emailing the school directly.
“All instances of breaches of SSP’s code of conduct are investigated, based on a set framework.”
Mr Tong mentioned that all SSP coaches, General Managers, and boarding staff are first aid certified, with training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and use of the automated external defibrillator (AED) and trained in psychological first aid.
He also confirmed the presence of an adequate number of AEDs available for emergency situations within the school, along with the on-site support of a National Youth Sports Institute physiotherapist who plays a crucial role in injury management and recovery.
In Pranav’s situation, there was no immediate collapse following the run, and his symptoms became more evident gradually.
Since Pranav remained conscious, continued to breathe, and had a pulse, there was no necessity for the use of an AED, he explained.
SSP also requires that all sports staff undergo an annual induction process that encompasses the sports safety Standard Operating Procedures, including a yearly review of the Risk Assessment Management System tailored to their respective work areas.
Moreover, all student-athletes are provided with safety briefings, and coaches ensure that students are well-informed about safety measures prior to the commencement of any new activity.
“Notwithstanding the above, following this unfortunate incident, SSP is working together with MCCY on a thorough review of the school’s safety policies and protocols, to identify areas for further improvement.
An expert panel is being formed to assist SSP in the review.”
“The review will seek to further strengthen the school’s safety policies and protocols, including pre-admission screening, communication, implementation and supervision of safety protocols and any other areas recommended by the panel.
“SSP aims to complete the review by the end of the year but will also progressively implement any improvements when ready.”
On 14 October, the school disclosed that the cause of Pranav’s death was determined to be cardiac arrest with an underlying factor of congenital malformation of coronary vessels.
On the same day, the school issued a dismissal letter to the badminton coach due to his failure to adhere to the school’s safety protocol, specifically for not verifying the well-being and headcount of all student-athletes before concluding their training sessions.
Mr Tong also concluded his written response by saying “We are strongly committed to the safety of our student-athletes, as we continue to support them in achieving their sporting and academic aspirations.
We will also continue to provide the fullest support to the family of Pranav, in their time of grief.”
SCDF clarifies adherence to protocol in Pranav’s transfer to NUH
On 24 October, Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) revealed Pranav was taken to the National University Hospital (NUH) as per medical protocol.
SCDF explained that NUH was equipped with pediatric emergency medical facilities, and was the most timely option at the moment.
This clarification was in response to inquiries questioning why 14-year-old Pranav Madhaik was not taken to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, which was closer to the school in Woodlands.
SCDF provided a timeline of events, stating that they received a call for help around 6.50 pm on 5 October.
Upon their arrival at approximately 7 p.m., SCDF found the Secondary 2 student lying on the ground along a running track.
A paramedic promptly attended to Pranav, who was conscious and able to converse normally at the time.
“Pranav’s vital signs including heart rate and blood oxygen level were assessed to be stable when he was carried into the ambulance,” said SCDF.
Around 7.20 pm, Pranav’s blood pressure showed improvement, “In line with the Ministry of Health’s and SCDF’s medical protocol for stable patients under 16 years old, Pranav was conveyed to National University Hospital, as it is equipped with paediatric emergency medical facilities.”
MOH refutes link between 14-year-old’s tragic death and COVID-19 vaccination
On 14 October, the Ministry of Health (MOH) dismissed speculation linking the 14-year-old Pranav’s death to COVID-19 vaccination, deeming it “untrue and irresponsible.”
The ministry clarified, “Based on the Ministry of Health’s vaccination records, the student had received his last dose of Pfizer-BioNTech’s Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine more than 18 months ago.”
“About 60 strokes and heart attacks happen every day, with or without COVID-19 vaccinations. It is highly irresponsible to link the two. ”
“For an unvaccinated person, the risk of COVID-19 infection leading to severe illness, far outweighs that of vaccination.”