Published: 29 January 2016
Dr Tan Wu Meng: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs what are the measures that the Ministry is considering to put in place to ensure accident victims and seriously ill patients continue to receive timely ambulance evacuation to hospitals
1. SCDF's Emergency Medical Services (EMS) responded to more than 155,000 calls in 2014. This means more than 400 calls a day. Despite the high volume of calls, SCDF responded to 83% of these cases within 11 minutes in 2014. This was an improvement from 78% in 2013. The 2015 figures are still being finalised and will be released in February.
2. The number of emergency ambulance calls have been increasing at a rate of about 5 percent a year. At this rate of growth, we can expect the number of calls to double in 15 years' time. However, it will not be possible to grow our number of ambulances and increase our ambulance crew at the same rate.
3. SCDF has adopted a number of strategies to cope with this trend.
4. First, SCDF will be increasingly adopting a tiered response model so that resources are channelled to areas of greatest need. For example, to ensure swift response to critical cases where time is of the essence, SCDF deploys Fire Bikers in addition to emergency ambulances. Equipped with Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) and other medical equipment, these Fire Bikers have been effective in ensuring that cardiac arrest patients receive prompt medical attention before the arrival of the emergency ambulance. In the case of industrial accidents or road traffic accidents, fire fighting vehicles may arrive earlier than an ambulance. These fire fighters would be able to able to render the initial assistance to stabilise the patient before the arrival of the emergency ambulance.
5. Second, SCDF has been implementing initiatives to equip and train members of public to render assistance. This is important as every minute counts for certain time-critical cases such as cardiac arrests. For example, SCDF's 'Save-a-Live' initiative trains and mobilises volunteers to respond to cardiac arrest cases. As part of this initiative, SCDF has begun installing AEDs in public spaces for use during medical emergencies and created a mobile App to alert the Community First Responders should a case happen near where they are.
6. Together, these strategies will allow SCDF to optimise its limited resources to deliver swift medical support to critical cases, and calibrate its response for non-critical cases.