By Adrian David | NEW STRAITS TIMES | MALAYSIA |
FROM humble beginnings as a milk boy to the nation’s pioneer aviation medicine doctor. That is Captain (rtd) Dr Jagdev Singh Badhesha who turned 88 on March 18.
In fact, thousands of the nation’s civilian and military pilots may not have continued flying, if not for people like Dr Jagdev. He even helped save lives during the 1969 racial riots.
Dr Jagdev also captained the national cricket team, at one time, during his prime where he was a top bowler.
Later as a medical practitioner, he propagated cardiopulmonary resuscitation techniques and helped formulate the country’s Occupational Safety and Health Act.
THE 1969 RIOTS
The 1969 racial riots flashed vividly across Dr Jagdev’s mind during an interview at his Section 6 home here in Selangor.
At the height of it all, when the federal capital was in a state of chaos, the dashing doctor was roped in by the Red Cross to provide emergency medical treatment at Kuala Lumpur Hospital.
“I was summoned to the hospital’s accident and emergency ward in an army vehicle….It was helter-skelter with people screaming and bloodstains everywhere.
“It was a shocking scene and I had to summon courage and calm my nerves to get the job done — that of assisting the skeleton crew of medical officers in attending to slash victims,” said Dr Jagdev, whose cousin is Lieutenant-Colonel (rtd) Baldev Singh Johl, who had served as the 6th Battalion Royal Ranger Regiment’s commanding officer and was arguably the best parade commander the country ever had.
Dr Jagdev said he had to work tirelessly with government doctors to render medical aid to the victims.
“At one stage, we had 100 patients brought in for emergency treatment for slash wounds and we had to work overnight owing to a shortage of doctors.
“The scene was gory!” said the octogenarian.
PIONEER IN AVIATION MEDICINE
Dr Jagdev is probably the first local in the early years to screen pilots to become great aviators for the airlines and air force — serving a total of 62 years in all.
“At that time, other than military officers, I was among a handful who was qualified in aviation medicine, to screen cadet pilots and professional ones, too.
“I did my basic aviation medicine training at the Royal Air Force base in Singapore in 1961.
“It was only very much later that the (Malaysian) armed forces established a proper aircrew screening centre (the Institute of Aviation Medicine at the Kuala Lumpur air force base),” he said.
Today, Dr Jagdev serves the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia as its chief medical assessor.
Read full story, ‘Dr Jagdev Singh Badhesha: From milk boy to aviation medicine expert’ (New Straits Times, 2 July 2019), here
Malaysia’s prominent Sikh medical research scientist (Asia Samachar, 29 July 2017)