SINGAPORE: The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) will from Monday (Apr 1) no longer take non-emergency patients to hospitals in their ambulances, it said on Friday.
Instead these patients will be advised to seek treatment from nearby clinics or make their own way to the hospital.
The move comes amid efforts by SCDF to respond faster to life-threatening cases and is part of the second phase of its emergency medical services (EMS) response framework.
Last year, SCDF handled more than 187,000 emergency medical service calls – or 500 calls daily.
“What we are trying to do is to encourage people not to use emergency medical services for minor emergencies. If you do call us, we will not say no, and we will still come to assess you,” said SCDF’s chief medical officer Shalini Arulanandam.
“But if you are considered to be stable and with something that is not urgent, then we will advise you to make your own way to the hospital or to visit a general practitioner instead,” Dr Shalini added.
In a medical emergency, a paramedic will assess the situation based on their medical knowledge and protocols, before deciding whether the case is life-threatening, a major or a minor emergency, said Dr Shalini.
TIERED RESPONSE FRAMEWORK
SCDF's tiered frontline response framework was first rolled out in 2017, with the first phase focused on telephone medical triaging and equipping firefighters with the skills to respond to medical emergencies.
The second phase of the framework provides direction for life-threatening cases, non-emergency cases and minor emergencies.
To this end, SCDF will be implementing high-performance cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on individuals suffering from cardiac arrests from Apr 1. These high performance CPR capabilities will be rolled out progressively over the next three years.
There are about 2,300 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests every year.
Currently, the SCDF's standard response for cardiac arrest cases is to dispatch one emergency medically trained firefighter on a fire bike together with a three-men crew in an ambulance. The mobility of the bike allows the firefighter to reach the scene ahead of the ambulance to stabilise and render immediate medical treatment.
Going forward, SCDF will dispatch an additional four-men crew on either a Red Rhino, a fire engine or a fire medical vehicle.
The eight-men team will greatly improve chances of the victim’s survival, as it cuts down unnecessary pauses in chest compression during CPR, said SCDF.
The team will also work in unison to ensure that chest compressions are done to an ideal depth, at an appropriate rate and with controlled ventilation, SCDF said.
The team works together like an F1 pit-stop crew, delivering high-quality and integrated cardiac arrest care in the quickest possible time, said Dr Shalini.