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Expert panel formed to review Singapore Sports School safety protocols following student’s death

An expert panel is being formed by the Singapore Sports School (SSP) in consultation with the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) to help review the school’s safety policies and protocols after the death of Pranav Madhaik, a Secondary 2 student from SSP’s badminton academy.

Pranav, 14, who was also part of the country’s national intermediate squad, had felt unwell after completing a 400m fitness time trial in school on Oct 5. He was then taken to National University Hospital, where he died six days later. 

In a written response on Monday to Nominated Member of Parliament associate professor Razwana Begum Abdul Rahim’s parliamentary question on whether the ministry is considering reviewing policies and procedures in place at the Sports School, MCCY Minister Edwin Tong expressed condolences to Pranav’s family.

He added that “the loss of a young life with so much potential, has been a sad occasion, and a deep shock to all of us”.

Mr Tong noted that the SSP has comprehensive safety policies and procedures in place to protect student-athletes’ well-being and all its staff and student-athletes are trained and briefed to look out for student safety.

He added: “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.”

Following investigations, the school revealed on Oct 14 that the cause of death was cardiac arrest with antecedent cause of congenital malformation of coronary vessels. The school’s badminton coach was also sacked after investigations found a safety lapse as he did not account for all his student-athletes before dismissing them from training, which was not in accordance with the school’s safety protocols.

Singapore Sports School student Pranav Madhaik had felt unwell after completing a 400m fitness time trial on Oct 5. He was then taken to National University Hospital, where he died six days later. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Mr Tong shared that SSP develops a set of comprehensive policies and procedures, based on the Ministry of Education school safety handbook, and highlighted that the school had just undergone an external safety validation in February.

Addressing the school’s culture of safety, Mr Tong said that SSP also equips the school community with the relevant training as all its coaches, general managers and boarding staff are first aid certified, with training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and use of the automated external defibrillator (AED) and that all student-athletes and staff undergo annual refresher training on emergency preparedness.

This includes training on the protocol for the scenario when an individual collapses.

Mr Tong said that in Pranav’s case, the student did not collapse after the run and his symptoms only became more obvious over time. As Pranav was conscious, breathing and had a pulse, the use of an AED was not required.

Reiterating that MCCY and SSP take the matter seriously, he said: “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.”

SPORTS AND RECREATIONSINGAPORE PARLIAMENTMINISTRY OF CULTURE, COMMUNITY AND YOUTHSecondary School