SMRT staff goes the extra mile to help autistic boy get home

For Assistant Station Manager (ASM) Nor Heiadayah Binte Abdullah, winner of the Customer Service Excellence (Transport) category at the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) Awards 2022, this means being observant and going beyond the call of duty and paying extra attention to students from special education (Sped) schools such as ASPN Tanglin School located within the proximity of Redhill MRT station where she worked.

Her proactiveness paid off towards the end of her shift on 9 February last year, when she noticed a boy in an APSN Tanglin School uniform looking frustrated and lost. When she approached him at the platform, the boy cried uncontrollably. Undeterred, she kept assuring him she was there to help.

“I just wanted to help him, and I told him that no matter how he felt, I was there for him and he could sit down and talk to me,” said ASM Heiadayah, whose win at the STB Awards was the second successive year that SMRT has won. “I recognised his school uniform. Knowing that he had special needs, I was concerned about his safety and well-being as it can be difficult for students like him to express their feelings.”

When a train pulled into the station, the boy dashed to board it and ASM Heiadayah, 40, quickly followed him. While in the train, she noticed the mobile phone number of the boy’s mother, Madam Chin Chow Hong, was on his lanyard and contacted her.

Madam Chin, 44, revealed to ASM Heiadayah that her son, Mr Bryan Wong, 17, has autism and was supposed to head back home in Yishun as per his normal routine.

“I was very anxious and helpless when I received the call from Heiadayah, because I knew something must have happened to Bryan,” said Madam Chin, who is a training coordinator. “Prior to this incident, Bryan was lost on four separate occasions while taking the public transport. On that day, Bryan was disoriented because he had a meltdown.”

ASM Heiadayah told Madam Chin, who was busy at work, that she would accompany Bryan from Redhill to Yishun. To further reassure Madam Chin, she also provided regular updates on how Bryan was doing.

ASM Heiadayah Binte Abdullah (right) helped Mr Bryan Wong, who has autism, reunite with his mother, Mdm Chin Chow Hong. Photo: SMRT
SMRT Assistant Station Manager (ASM) Nor Heiadayah Binte Abdullah (right) helped Mr Bryan Wong, who has autism, find his way home. With them is his mother, Mdm Chin Chow Hong, at Yishun MRT station. Photo: SMRT

Recounting this incident, Madam Chin revealed this was the first time someone offered to accompany her son home.

She said: “Heiadayah is special to me and I am very grateful that she went the extra mile, even though she did not have to accompany him to Yishun MRT station. I will remember this incident forever.”

Frontline staff efforts part of SMRT’s WeCare service ethos

These stories of ASM Heiadayah, and that of her colleagues SASM Alain, SM Norazhar and ASM Hafiz (see other post here) were shared in celebration of World Autism Awareness Month in April, and are examples of SMRT’s WeCare service ethos put into practice, where frontline staff go the extra mile to provide commuter-centric, safe, reliable and comfortable journeys.

The WeCare service ethos can be found in the suite of services by SMRT, such as dementia Go-To Points and Go-To SMRT. These are all part of SMRT’s efforts to build affinity and better serve commuters on our network.

This post was adapted from the article “SMRT’s WeCare service ethos is powered by its frontline staff”, the full version of which was published in The Sunday Times on 3 April 2022. It was updated on 25 May after ASM Heiadayah received her accolade at the STB Awards 2022.

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