SINGAPORE: The victims of the Lucky Plaza car accident were not taken to the nearby Mount Elizabeth Hospital because it is not equipped to "provide timely management for severe trauma patients", authorities said on Tuesday (Dec 31).
Emergency services were called to Lucky Plaza around at about 5pm on Sunday afternoon after an accident involving a car and six female pedestrians.
The six victims were instead taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital using five ambulances, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) in a joint statement in response to CNA's queries.
"SCDF emergency ambulances will convey patients with severe trauma to the nearest accident and emergency department that is equipped with the necessary resources, equipment and specialist medical support to deal with such complexities of care," said the statement.
"Although Mount Elizabeth Hospital is located near the incident, it is not equipped to provide timely management for severe trauma patients."
It added that all SCDF ambulances are equipped with the "necessary medical equipment" as part of pre-hospital medical care management, and that paramedics and crew are well-trained and capable of performing resuscitation on patients.
Online criticism had mounted over the decision to send the victims to Tan Tock Seng Hospital, rather than the nearby Mount Elizabeth Hospital.
Ms Arlyn Nocus, 50, and Ms Abigail Leste, 41, died of their injuries. Arlyn's sister, 56-year-old Arceli was seriously injured and is still warded in hospital along with Ms Egnal Limbauan, 43.
Two of the victims, Ms Laila Laudencia, 44, and Ms Demet Limbauan, 37, have been discharged.
Mount Elizabeth Hospital said on Monday it was not part of the Singapore Civil Defence's (SCDF) list of medical providers.
The hospital's CEO Noel Yeo said that this meant that the hospital would not be activated by SCDF even if such an incident was within close proximity.
"While the hospital is capable of treating emergencies, it is not set up like the restructured hospitals for severe traumatic conditions, which include multiple trauma and extensive burns," said Dr Yeo on the hospital's Facebook page.
But Mount Elizabeth's A&E team would have responded immediately had it been alerted to the emergency, he said.
"Our 24-hour A&E department is open to all patients, regardless of who they are.
"We will even dispatch our staff to attend to emergencies via our ambulance service. Our A&E team would have reacted immediately to help stabilise the injured while waiting for the SCDF to arrive, had we been activated."
Earlier on Monday, Senior Parliamentary Secretary (Manpower) Low Yen Ling and Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan visited the accident victims at Tan Tock Seng Hospital.
Eyewitnesses said a car ran into several women who were gathered on a walkway along Nutmeg Road just outside Lucky Plaza.
CCTV footage also emerged on Monday showing a car crashing into a railing where a few people had been seated, before landing on a service road leading out of Lucky Plaza's car park.
A 64-year-old male driver was arrested on Sunday for dangerous driving causing death.