SINGAPORE: Two private ambulance operators contracted to the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) will respond to emergency calls in SCDF uniforms and ambulances starting from Tuesday (Dec 1).
This follows a new contract between SCDF and the two private ambulance operators - Unistrong Technology and Lentor Ambulance, said SCDF on Monday.
Under the new model, crew from the two operators are trained to respond to a wider range of emergencies, such as mass casualty incidents and unconventional threats involving chemical, biological, radiological and explosive elements.
In 2009, SCDF increased its emergency medical services (EMS) fleet with contracted private ambulance operators due to the rising number of medical calls. This arrangement between SCDF and the operators was based on a contractor-owned-contractor-operated model, said SCDF.
The private operators owned and maintained their own fleet of ambulances, medical equipment and communication devices, and also provided manpower to operate the ambulances. Over the past eleven years, the private ambulance operators increased their fleet from 10 to 30 ambulances.
NEW MODEL TO ENHANCE SCDF'S RESPONSE TO EMERGENCIES
From Tuesday, SCDF will transit to a new Government-owned-contractor-operated model.
"(This is) to further enhance the SCDF’s ability to respond to a wide range of emergencies and maintain a high level of quality patient care," said SCDF.
The two contracted operators will provide EMS personnel to operate the 30 SCDF issued ambulances assigned to them in fire stations across Singapore.
SCDF will also issue additional fully equipped ambulances on top of the 30 ambulances to the operators that will serve as additional resources that can be activated to support SCDF during major prolonged emergencies.
Off-duty private ambulance operator EMS personnel can also be called on to respond to such emergencies.
The operators will be responsible for the general maintenance of the ambulances, while SCDF will be responsible for the maintenance of all medical and communication equipment of these ambulances.
SCDF will also conduct regular audits on the ambulances to ensure compliance with its maintenance regime.
It will also maintain overall command and control over all medical resources - which may include private ambulance operators' ambulances and crews - deployed to large scale incidents.
Assistant Commissioner Yong Meng Wah, director of SCDF's EMS department said the new model will allow SCDF to provide "even more reliable, consistent, and high-quality patient care in the face of an increasingly complex operating environment and greater demand for emergency medical services".
"We look forward to strengthening our relationship with the PAOs in our shared mission of saving and protecting lives," he said.
NEW PRIVATE AMBULANCE OPERATOR RECRUITS TO UNDERGO UPSKILLING PROGRAMME
All new private ambulance operator recruits from 2021 onwards will be required to attend a three-day upskilling programme, which will equip them with skills to respond and manage more complex medical emergencies.
About 350 EMS personnel from the two operators have undergone the programme since June 2020, said SCDF.
They will also be required to attend relevant continuing training, as well as undergo half-yearly re-certification tests administered by SCDF.
Lieutenant-Colonel (LTC) Janice Oh, SCDF's senior assistant director from the EMS Readiness Branch said the operators' EMS personnel were assessed through various theory tests and exercises under the programme.
These tests and exercises are all in line with SCDF's "rigorous standards" for emergency medical care, she said.
The personnel assigned to SCDF ambulances under the new model will also wear SCDF uniforms to project a cohesive public image, it said.
They can be distinguished by the operators' insignia badge worn above the name tag on the uniform.