In the video, the little boy’s joy is infectious. Wearing an SCDF helmet and an oversized firefighter uniform with his own name tag, he runs around the flat excitedly, high-fiving firefighters and getting carried by them.
The firefighters are from Punggol Fire Station and the boy is Isaac Tan.
The surprise visit last Saturday (May 28) was posted on TikTok by Isaac’s preschool teacher, Nurul Huda, who had organised the occasion.
Since the video was posted, it has gone viral, with more than 100,000 views and 12,000 likes.
@bubbleteawpearl a memorable day for Isaac, thank you Punggol Firestation! ❤️🚒🏻 #tiktoksg ♬ original sound – nh
The comment section was filled with people stating how adorable Isaac is. One commenter, racunivy, wrote: “thank you for making Isaac happy, SCDF!.”
Users were inspired by how Huda went above and beyond for her students outside of work hours.
One commenter, Nsally, wrote: “You are inspiring as a teacher too, continue to do what you do.”
Special needs challenges
The visit is especially meaningful for five-year-old Isaac.
He has Noonan syndrome, a genetic disorder that prevents normal development in parts of the body. Symptoms include unusual facial characteristics, short stature, heart defects, physical problems and other developmental delays.
Huda, 21, is one of his early childhood educators at a preschool in Punggol, where Isaac and his mum live.
She tells The Pride: “(What he has is) similar to Down Syndrome, but for Isaac, his organs are underdeveloped as compared to a person with Down Syndrome.”
Isaac is relatively smaller as compared to children his age. He also needs monthly treatments to examine his organs because his lungs and heart are extremely sensitive.
“The moment he has a slight flu or fever, he needs to be hospitalised to allow doctors to monitor his condition,” explains Huda.
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She says that she knows more about Isaac’s challenges because she is close with his mother, whom she affectionately calls “Mummy”.
The two had formed a close relationship ever since Huda started out as an intern at the childcare centre Isaac attended when he was younger. “I reached out to Mummy to know more about Isaac’s condition and how I can help him more,” she explains.
They exchanged contacts and since then, have been communicating about Isaac’s welfare regularly. Their relationship became stronger as Mummy Tan trusted Huda more.
Even with his condition, however, Huda says that Isaac is an independent child.
“Once, a classmate offered to fetch his water bottle, which was on a higher shelf. He told them not to do it as he could do it himself,” she recalls. Everyone at school is often surprised at how tough Isaac is, she shares proudly.
Isaac’s surprise visit from the Punggol firefighters is the result of an earlier field trip to the fire station by the preschoolers.
During that trip, Isaac got to try out the different firefighting activities such as using the firehose. He got to sit in the firetruck and even posed with the firefighters. He hardly stopped smiling throughout the trip.
@bubbleteawpearl Brought my student out for the day before his surgery. Love you Isaac. ♥️🚒 #firefighter #scdfsg #tiktoksg @scdfsg ♬ original sound – nh
That video got more than 20,000 views and over 2,000 likes.
That trip itself was the result of a conversation between Huda and Isaac’s mummy, who had confided in her that Isaac was cranky as he had a surgery coming up.
To cheer him up, Huda planned the outing to the Punggol Fire Station.
Huda recalls how throughout the trip, the firefighters were especially welcoming to Isaac. “It felt like the whole station had their attention on Isaac,” she laughs.
After the trip, Isaac told Mummy how he wanted to be a firefighter when he grew up. The night before his surgery, Isaac was still ecstatic about the visit.
“Mummy told me how the night before the surgery, all he could talk about was the fire station visit,” says Huda with a smile.
Surprise home visit
After she heard from Isaac’s mum about how happy Isaac was, Huda reached out to Punggol Fire Station on Instagram to thank them for making Isaac’s day.
That was when she got a surprise herself.
“I did not expect them to reply, but they did, and even offered to plan a surprise for Isaac,” Huda says.
The plan was to visit Isaac at home after his surgery to cheer him up.
May 29 was an open house for the fire station but the SCDF personnel still made the effort to visit, sending a team of five including firefighters and officers from the rescue team.
What made the occasion even more special was that they even had a mini firefighter jacket with Isaac’s name specially made for him.
“Isaac’s condition makes him a little smaller, and that meant the jacket and the fire hat looked too big on him, which made it even cuter,” Huda recalls with a laugh.
The team stayed for about an hour or so with Isaac, answering his questions and playing with him. They took photos together so that Isaac could always remember that day.
Huda says how when they were about to leave, Isaac even started crying because he was so sad to see them go.
Huda says that she did not expect her video to go viral. She shared how she had always loved vlogging about her life, especially about Isaac and sharing it on her social media (with his mum’s permission, of course!)
Isaac also knows how to navigate a phone himself and he would sometimes rewatch his videos she posts.
“People ask me why I go out of my way to do something for my students. You would never know if one day he would be the one to help me,” shares Huda.
She is still studying part time for her degree in early childhood education as she wants to learn how to work with children and families with special needs and learn how to care for them appropriately.
“We will never understand how someone with special needs feels even if we say we do,” says Huda.
Treating them like any other person is the best way to help them, she adds.
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Isaac proves that even with his disability, he is still an independent child who is capable of making his own decisions.
Now that he is five, Mummy and Huda are starting to plan for his primary school journey.
They want to make sure that whatever school Isaac goes to will help him fulfil his fullest potential.
“We should be here, not to spoon feed him, but help him to grow as a person,” says Huda.