Written Replies to Parliamentary Questions

Written Reply to Parliamentary Question on Ambulance Response Times, by Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law

Published: 08 July 2019



Ms Irene Quay Siew Ching: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) what is the average response time and time taken by emergency ambulances to reach the nearest hospital during rush hours; (b) what is the percentage of emergency ambulances hitting targets for response time and time taken to reach the nearest hospital during rush hours; and (c) whether paramedics have raised concerns about vehicles not giving way to ambulances especially during rush hours.




    1. During rush hours, the median response time for an emergency ambulance to arrive at the incident location is about seven minutes. The median time taken to travel from the incident location to the nearest hospital is about nine minutes. We use the median rather than the average response time as an indicator of performance, as the average response time will be skewed by outliers.


    2. SCDF’s target is to be able to respond to 80% of all emergency medical calls within 11 minutes, regardless of the time of day. This is the time taken by the emergency ambulance to arrive at the incident location. In 2018, SCDF responded to 91% of emergency medical calls within 11 minutes.


    3. Like operators of emergency ambulance services in other countries, SCDF does not set a target for the time taken for the ambulance to reach the hospital. The ambulance crew, led by a paramedic, will provide the necessary care to the patients on the way to the hospital.


    4. Nonetheless, SCDF strives to reach the nearest hospital in the shortest time possible. Since 1 December 2017, SCDF ambulances are legally allowed to run red lights and make U-turns at non-designated junctions when responding to life-threatening emergencies, provided it is safe to do so. This was further extended to other SCDF emergency vehicles on 1 June 2019. In addition, SCDF is collaborating with the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to implement a traffic priority system in the vicinity of hospitals. The traffic priority system will provide right of way for ambulances conveying critical cases, enabling them to arrive faster at the hospitals.


    5. Road users also play a crucial role to reduce response times by giving way to ambulances and other emergency vehicles. On-going public education efforts have helped to raise awareness, and motorists are generally cooperative.


Civil Defence and Emergency Preparedness