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SCDF refutes claim of 'incompetence' by caller who reported road accident, says wrong information given

SCDF refutes claim of 'incompetence' by caller who reported road accident, says wrong information given
File photo of SCDF paramedics. (Photo: Calvin Oh)

SINGAPORE: The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) has refuted the allegations of a caller who reported a road accident and later posted on social media about “incompetence, lack of urgency and stupidity” over its handling of the case.

Following an investigation, it was found that the caller had provided a wrong location of the accident, said SCDF in a Facebook post on Saturday (May 14).

The incident arose from a social media post on May 8 on Facebook group “Singapore Roads accident.com", by a user named "Pam Kaur" who mentioned two phone conversations with SCDF to report an accident involving a car and a motorcyclist.

The writer expressed disappointment at the “incompetence, lack of urgency and stupidity” of the SCDF officer after being called a second time to confirm the number of the lamppost nearest to the location of the accident. 

It was alleged that the SCDF officer the writer spoke to had “a listening problem” despite being given “clear instructions”. The post further stated that the SCDF officer hung up after expressing displeasure with the writer's tone.

SCDF said an investigation was immediately commenced and a recording of the conversations was reviewed.

It was found that the caller had provided incorrect information about the location of the accident, and that the SCDF responder in question had "remained calm and polite", said SCDF.

SCDF'S INVESTIGATION FINDINGS

SCDF's 995 call centre had received a call about a road traffic accident on May 8 at about 2.37am, reported by the caller to be along the Pan-Island Expressway (PIE) towards Changi before Exit 8B.

The call centre operator repeated the reported location to the caller for verification, subsequently asking for further details such as the nature of the injuries sustained by the motorcyclist.

When asked for the number of the lamppost nearest to the accident, the caller said “370F”.

The operator then attempted to verify the direction on the PIE where the accident was located, to which the caller replied, “my exit towards Changi but I’m going straight towards CTE, but the lamppost number is 370F”.

"The operator then assured the caller that the ambulance was already on its way and thanked him," SCDF said.

Based on the information provided by the caller, the ambulance could not locate the accident, prompting the paramedic to contact the caller to verify the exit and lamppost number, which are essential reference points.

The second call "seemed to frustrate" the caller who made "snide remarks" towards the paramedic, SCDF said.

The paramedic then told the caller that she was uncomfortable with the tone, and subsequently disengaged the call to focus the crew’s attention on locating the accident, it added.

The SCDF later established that the accident was instead along the Central Expressway (CTE) towards Seletar Expressway (SLE), before the PIE exit, after receiving a subsequent report on the same accident from another caller.

The ambulance arrived at the scene within eight minutes, and conveyed a man to Tan Tock Seng Hospital, said SCDF.

"There were no other accidents around the initial location reported by the caller, or the actual location, during that period of time," SCDF added.

SCDF'S REVIEW OF THE CASE

In their review of the first call, SCDF said that the call centre operator had dispatched the ambulance based on the initial information from the caller.

SCDF noted that the paramedic who made the follow-up call "had remained calm and polite with the caller throughout, even at the point when she said that she was not comfortable with the caller’s tone and subsequently disengaged the call".

"We commend the public-spiritedness of the callers who had stopped to assist and call 995 upon witnessing the accident," SCDF said.

"We would like to highlight that it is an established and sound procedure for 995 call centre operators to ask callers for key information such as prominent landmarks, building names, expressways, road names and lamppost numbers, especially when there is no specific address.

"At times, we may also need to further clarify the information, particularly when our responders are unable to locate the reported incident. We seek the public’s understanding and patience about this."

Source: CNA/nh(gr)

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