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The Best of Both Worlds

SCDF’s Senior Fire & Rescue Officers combine frontline medical expertise with firefighting skills to save lives.
Multiple skills (from left): CPT Amelia Lim, LTA Yeo Ren Jie and MAJ Janice Oh are former SCDF Paramedics who now serve as Senior Fire & Rescue Officers. PHOTO: Muhammad Khair

While all Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) Paramedics are trained to handle maternity cases, not all will get to help deliver a baby in the line of duty.

That’s what sets Major (MAJ) Janice Oh apart. As a Paramedic at Jurong Fire Station during the early 2000s, she had the chance to deliver nine babies over six years. “It makes me happy that not only did I save lives as a Paramedic, I also helped to bring new life into the world,” she shared. 

“That’s why maternity calls are happy ones,” chimed Captain (CPT) Amelia Justina Lim, her fellow Paramedic and now a senior Fire & Rescue Officer. 

After attending to ambulance calls for six years, in 2006, MAJ Janice decided to switch career paths. After undergoing an intensive, nine-month-long residential training programme, she broke new ground as the first Paramedic to become a Senior Fire & Rescue Officer. 

Paramedic pioneer: MAJ Janice was the first Paramedic to become a Senior Fire & Rescue Officer. PHOTO: Muhammad Khair

MAJ Janice is now the Assistant Director of EMS Readiness with SCDF. Asked about the difference between a Paramedic and a Senior Fire & Rescue Officer, she explained, “Paramedics focus more on treating patients while Senior Fire & Rescue Officer focus on making timely and accurate assessments. It’s a different set of responsibilities.” 

Over the last 13 years, almost 10 Paramedics have followed in MAJ Janice’s footsteps and made the switch to become Senior Fire & Rescue Officers. These officers can draw on both lifesaving and firefighting skills to make better decisions on the ground.

CPT Amelia was part of the 55-member Operation Lionheart contingent that rendered assistance after the 2011 earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand. PHOTO: Muhammad Khair

Among these officers is CPT Amelia, who graduated with a degree in Biology from the National University of Singapore (NUS). Having joined SCDF in 2008 as a Paramedic, she served for seven years before deciding to make a change. “I wanted to see the Force from a larger perspective,” she said, “and to understand both the medical and firefighting aspects of what we do.”

CPT Amelia is now the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Team Leader of the 3rd SCDF Division. “Our job is challenging but rewarding, as it gives us the opportunity to contribute to the Force, and to society,” she said.

LTA Ren Jie was a member of the five-men team who designed the new SCDF sprinter ambulance, an assignment that allowed him to put his technical and industrial design skills to good use. PHOTO: Muhammad Khair

At the age of 18, LTA Ren Jie joined the Civil Defence Auxiliary Unit as a volunteer Medic at Tampines Fire Station. He recalled the adrenaline rush he got from being in an ambulance for the very first time and seeing SCDF officers perform their duties. “It was an eye-opening experience to witness a Paramedic performing resuscitation on a patient right in front of my eyes,” he said. 

That was his first exposure to the life of a Paramedic, a vocation he grew to love over the years. That’s why LTA Ren Jie signed on as a Paramedic in 2008. 

After six years as a Paramedic, LTA Ren Jie decided to pursue a degree in Industrial Design at NUS. Graduating in 2018, he undertook the Rota Commander Course to progress in his career as a Senior Fire & Rescue Officer. 

He’s now the Rota Commander at Yishun Fire Station. “As Senior Fire & Rescue Officers, we have to constantly remind ourselves to look at things from a larger perspective,” shared LTA Ren Jie. “We’re the ones who’ll run into an incident scene while others are running out. And our Paramedic experience comes in handy when we have to bring casualties out from a fire incident, so that they don’t suffer additional injuries.”

Written by

Natasha Razak


15 February 2019

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