SINGAPORE: Calls made to the Singapore Civil Defence Force’s (SCDF) 995 emergency hotline will be assessed based on their severity and be allocated resources accordingly, under a new frontline response framework launched on Wednesday (May 3).
Speaking at the annual SCDF Workplan Seminar, Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam said the new framework will help meet the rising number of calls made to the emergency hotline.
“Since 2000, the number of 995 calls has increased by about 6 per cent annually. In 2016, SCDF handled close to 180,000 EMS (emergency medical services) calls – 500 calls every single day. SCDF has been increasing EMS resources, but increasing resources alone to meet that demand is not a sustainable approach,” he said.
Last year, SCDF received almost 19,000 calls – about 10 per cent of all 995 calls – over false alarms and non-emergencies such as constipation and chronic cough.
Under the new EMS Tiered-Response Framework, to be rolled out progressively over the next few years, calls will be classified based on the severity of the patients’ medical conditions. More severe cases will be prioritised over less serious cases in terms of the scale of SCDF resources and speed of response.
Previously, the SCDF responded to all emergency medical and trauma cases on a standardised 11-minute response time, on a first-come-first-served basis.
Firefighters who have been trained to double up as emergency medical technicians (EMTs) will also be deployed to critical emergency cases such as cardiac arrest or stroke. There are now 230 firefighters who have been trained as EMTs.
A new fire medical vehicle will also be launched later this month.
A hybrid of a fire-fighting vehicle and an ambulance, the vehicle will be deployed for minor industrial incidents and road traffic accidents to stabilise and treat casualties prior to the arrival of ambulances.
The vehicle has fire and rescue capabilities equivalent to that of the fifth-generation Red Rhino, and a fully functioning ambulance cabin which allows SCDF personnel to treat patients and take them to a hospital.
Since April, firefighters who are also EMTs have been using a fleet of 30 three-wheeler fire bikes. Each bike is equipped with medical items such as oxygen cylinders, AED sets, diagnostic equipment and medical drugs to stabilise patients with critical injuries.