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Yong Li Xuan and Aqil Hamzah
The Straits Times
March 17, 2023
A dislodged lock on a door trapped a mother and her two-month-old daughter in a nursing room at HomeTeamNS Bedok Reservoir for nearly three hours on Monday.
The family had gone there to get a takeaway dinner when Mrs Low, who declined to give her full name, needed to nurse her infant.
Her husband, who wants to be known only as Mr Low, said his wife entered the nursing room on the second floor at about 7.30pm with their child as he waited outside.
But when Mrs Low, 30, tried to leave the room, she realised the door was stuck.
Mr Low, 32, quickly sought help from clubhouse staff. A few minutes later, a representative from the management office arrived and told him they did not have the master key for the door.
A HomeTeamNS spokesman said the key was with an external vendor then because “minor rectification work” on the door’s alignment had been completed recently.
It was almost an hour after Mrs Low and her daughter had entered the room when the vendor arrived.
However, the master key failed to work because the locking mechanism was jammed and the vendor was forced to try various other methods of opening the door, including sawing the lock open, Mr Low said.
“I thought they would bring in power tools but they took out a metal saw. It didn’t work,” said Mr Low. “Then they tried to use a metal ruler to cut open the lock.”
He added that the door could not be dismantled because that had to be done from inside the room.
At their wits’ end, they called the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) at about 9.40pm for help. SCDF officers arrived within five minutes, according to Mr Low, and 15 minutes later, managed to open the door with their tools.
Throughout the incident, Mr Low spoke to his wife through a small gap in the door or over the phone.
“Luckily, I was outside. My wife had to talk very loudly to communicate with me. If there was no one around, how would anyone know if there’s someone stuck inside,” he said.
Mr Low, who works in the IT industry, said that following the incident, his wife became a light sleeper and has nightmares occasionally. She also developed a phobia of entering closed spaces such as lifts.
“The whole time, she was more concerned with taking care of the baby,” he said. “But afterwards, she realised that whatever happened had an impact on her emotionally.”
The HomeTeamNS spokesman said the lock had dislodged so the door got stuck, and it was the first time this had happened.
The spokesman added: “We should have ensured that the master key was handed over promptly after the rectification work was done. Prior to the incident, the door lock was not faulty.”
HomeTeamNS has since displayed an emergency contact in the nursing room. All three nursing room doors will also be replaced with a “more user-friendly” option. In the meantime, an “alternative facility” has been set aside for nursing mothers.
The spokesman said: “HomeTeamNS will continue to revise and strengthen our internal procedures to prevent the occurrence of similar incidents.”