The SCDF Parade and Singapore-Global Firefighters and Paramedics Challenge 2016 - Speech by Mr Desmond Lee, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of National Development

Published: 12 November 2016

Commissioner Eric Yap,


Distinguished guests,


Ladies and Gentlemen.


Good afternoon.




1. I am very happy to be here today for the SCDF Parade and Singapore-Global Firefighters & Paramedics Challenge. To our guests from overseas, a very warm welcome to Singapore.


SCDF Parade


2. The SCDF Parade allows us to recognise the contributions of SCDF, its officers and our key partners.


3. 2016 has been a busy year for the SCDF.  Many of you would remember the high-profile fire cases. For instance, the CK Building fire which took our firefighters 16 hours to extinguish and the recent fire at Sungei Kadut, where seven people were rescued by our officers from a burning building.  I am sure many of you who were involved in these major operations are standing on the Parade here today with your proud family members looking on.


4. In the first nine months of this year, SCDF attended to close to 135,000 emergency medical calls. This is higher than the same period last year. Even as workload increases, SCDF continues to maintain operational excellence in its firefighting, rescue and life-saving efforts.


5. I would like to thank all our firefighters and paramedics who are here with us today. You work tirelessly, 24 by 7, with the noble and important mission of saving lives and building safe communities.


Singapore-Global Firefighters & Paramedics Challenge

6. This is the 4th year where the SCDF Parade is held in conjunction with the Singapore-Global Firefighters & Paramedics Challenge. We have 19 overseas teams from 15 countries participating in the challenge. This is real validation of the real skills that you use each day in saving lives. I wish you all the very best for the competition.


Innovating for a Safer Community


7. The theme for this year's event is "Innovating for A Safer Community". In Singapore, SCDF's challenges are the rising demand for emergency ambulance services, and a heightened terrorism threat.


8. SCDF constantly innovates new solutions to meet these challenges. Last month, SCDF was conferred the Innovation Excellence Award, building on its Singapore Quality Award with Special Commendation in 2015. These are the highest awards given to organisations in Singapore with outstanding practices in innovation management and business excellence. SCDF has done a tremendous job to win these awards. I would like to congratulate all the officers for your achievements.


Developing new operational capabilities


9. There are three examples of how SCDF has reshaped its capabilities and processes through innovation.


10. First, SCDF innovates to develop new operational capabilities. One area that SCDF has been focusing on is to enhance its marine fire-fighting and rescue capabilities. The SCDF Marine Command will be adding five new vessels to its fleet over the next few years. It is not just increasing number of vessels, but also introducing new capabilities into its operations. 


11. For example, the Rapid Response Fire Vessel, which we saw in the video earlier, is a purpose-built vessel designed by the SCDF Marine Command. It can reach speeds of more than 40 knots, and is highly maneuverable. The vessel allows SCDF to respond more quickly to incidents. SCDF has also designed the vessel to make it easier for rescuers to help casualties in the water. This will significantly improve SCDF's marine fire-fighting and rescue capabilities.


Harnessing Power of Information


12. Second, SCDF is enhancing the power of information. An example is in the area of information integration in Emergency Medical Services.


13. Over the next few years, SCDF is developing the Operational Medical Networks Informatics Integrator or Project OMNII for short. This is essentially a smart ambulance and a suite of smart devices and wearables that the responders can use to access and send information to and from various sources.


14. To illustrate, when the ambulance crew receives an emergency call, the OMNII system will provide the crew with essential information about the patient before they get to the scene. After picking up the patient, while en route to the hospital, the OMNII system will allow our paramedic crew to send information regarding the patient's condition to the receiving hospital even before the ambulance reaches the hospital so that the emergency medical crew in the hospital can be prepared to receive the patient, knowing the likely condition.


Engaging the Community


15. Third, SCDF is always looking for new ways to engage and partner the community. It is important to have a strong SCDF, but it is also very important for Singaporeans to be ready and to be prepared to deal with emergencies. An example is the "Save-A-Life" initiative that SCDF launched in August last year, to increase the survival rate of cardiac arrest victims. 


16. For people who suffer cardiac arrests, every minute counts in the response. It is a matter of life and death. In the past, our key focus was to get our ambulances and paramedics to the victim as fast as we can. But apart from how fast the ambulance can reach the victim, we should also be asking how fast help can reach the victim. In this case, the fastest help may be a Community First Responder. The innovation in "Save-A-Life" is in enabling this community response.


17. There are three components in the "Save-A-Life" initiative:


a. First, to train a network of volunteers who would respond to cardiac arrest cases in their immediate vicinity.


b. Second, to make Automated External Defibrillators (AED) more widely available.


c. Third, to use technology, in the form of a geo-enabled mobile app called "myResponder". The app alerts volunteers to respond to nearby cardiac arrest cases.


18. We have seen several success stories since the launch of the "Save-A-Life"initiative. SCDF will expand the initiative across the whole of Singapore over the next three years, with the installation of one AED for every two HDB blocks in our heartlands.


19. The "Save-A-Life" initiative shows how we can use technology to innovate and transform how we do our work. But the power of the initiative is in the good hearts of ordinary men and women, young and old, who step forward to receive training to make a difference to the people around them. The myResponder app allowed SCDF to galvanise the community to assist someone in need.


20. This initiative is also part of the broader SGSecure movement, which seeks to prepare the nation against the threat of terrorism. Trained individuals who can step forward as Community First Responders, and help others in distress, will have a significant role to play – both during peacetime emergencies and during a major crisis such as a terror attack.  


21. If you have not done so yet, I encourage you to download the myResponder app as well as the SGSecure app.




22. In closing, let me commend all SCDF officers, NSFs, NSmen and volunteers for your dedication and professionalism in your work – saving lives and protecting our homes.


23. I would also like to thank our overseas guests for participating in the Singapore-Global Firefighters and Paramedics Challenge. I am sure that you will take this opportunity to exchange ideas, sharpen your skills, and build lasting friendships. Please also take time to enjoy Singapore during your stay here. 


24. I wish all of you a good day. Thank you.


Community Engagement
Civil Defence and Emergency Preparedness