BMT resumes with stricter checks when booking inThe Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) is implementing strict measures to ensure recruits' safety and well-being before returning to training at Pulau Tekong.
// Story by Teo Jing Ting
// Photos by Kenneth Lin
Taking temperature at home in the morning, before boarding the bus to the SAF Ferry Terminal and once more at Pulau Tekong in the afternoon – these are additional precautions that the SAF has taken to ensure that recruits are healthy before returning to Basic Military Training Centre (BMTC).
This is on top of staggered reporting dates and venues, as well as the implementation of safe distancing measures, to minimise the spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). About 6,300 recruits are expected to report to BMTC from 26 May to 7 Jun.
"We have adjusted our book-in process (to) align to the SAF's precautionary measures and implemented strict enhancements for the health and safety for our servicemen," said Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Lim Yew Sheng, Commanding Officer of BMTC School IV.
"(These include) staggered timings for the servicemen to book-in, as well as two book-in locations at Pasir Ris Bus Interchange (PRBI) and Selarang Camp. Our commanders (are also) acting as safe distancing enforcers on the ground to (make sure) servicemen maintain a distance of 1m apart."
Enhanced safety measures
To prevent overcrowding, recruits booking in on 26 and 27 May will report to either Selarang Camp or Pasir Ris Bus Interchange (PRBI) at staggered timings between 15 to 30-minute apart, before transiting to the SAF Ferry Terminal via buses in waves.
As PRBI is prone to congestion, recruits will be further segregated into two different reporting points – PRBI and a holding area at Drive 8. There is only one reporting point at Selarang Camp due to there being a larger holding area within the camp vicinity.
On the other hand, pre-enlistees reporting between 2 to 7 Jun will just head to Selarang Camp and go through a truncated direct enlistment process.
Buses and ferries are operating at 50 per cent seating capacity and at any one time, up to 250 recruits will be seated in the ferry to Pulau Tekong. Ferry timings have also been spaced one hour apart.
Three-step temperature taking
Prior to reporting, recruits have been told to take their temperatures at home. Upon reaching their respective reporting venue, they will be subject to temperature screening as well, before being allowed to board the bus.
After reaching Pulau Tekong, a third temperature screening will be done. If found to be unwell, recruits will be separated immediately and sent to the medical centre to be swabbed.
Resumption of BMT necessary
The resumption of BMT is necessary to train new soldiers to maintain operational readiness for the Army and the SAF, said LTC Lim.
As training resumes, precautionary measures will be taken to monitor for symptoms of infection and to reduce the spread of infection, if any. These include temperature-taking twice a day, training in smaller functional groups and staggered meal times. Hand sanitisers have also been placed in every bunk.
Training-wise, BMT will begin progressive training in the first two weeks so recruits can build up their stamina and fitness in a safe and confident manner.
"We understand that parents are worried about their children," said LTC Lim. "The SAF has a very strict enforcement on safety and training standards. The commanders have also done their commanders' preparation programme prior to the recruits coming in, to ensure that their build-up will be smooth throughout."
He added that the BMT graduation for recruits whose training was suspended will be delayed for two to four weeks. This is to cater enough time for recruits to complete their syllabus and training before they graduate.
"As much as possible, (we want) the recruits (to) have a safe and meaningful and memorable experience in BMT."