Update on Social Media Post about the Manner in which an SCDF Officer Handled a 995 Phone Call
14 May 2022
The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) would like to respond to media queries arising from a social media post credited to “Pam Kaur” on Facebook group “Singapore Roads accident.com” on 8 May 2022.
The social media post mentions two phone conversations with SCDF to report an accident involving a car and a motorcyclist. The writer expresses dismay that after the initial call where the caller had provided the location of the accident several times, including the number of the nearest lamppost, SCDF had called back a second time to confirm the lamppost number. This follow-up call frustrated the caller who subsequently posted about “incompetence, lack of urgency and stupidity” on the part of the SCDF officer. The writer also alleges that the SCDF officer the caller spoke to has “a listening problem” despite been given “clear instructions”. The writer further states that the SCDF officer hung up on the caller after expressing displeasure with the caller’s tone.
SCDF takes a serious view of such feedback. An investigation was immediately commenced to ascertain the facts of the case, and we reviewed the recordings of the conversation between the caller and the SCDF officer.
On 8 May 2022 at 2.37am, SCDF’s 995 call centre received a call about a road traffic accident between a car and a motorcycle. The location was reported by the caller to be along the Pan-Island Expressway (PIE) towards Changi before Exit 8B. The 995 call centre operator repeated the reported location to the caller for verification. Subsequently, the operator asked for further details such as the nature of the injuries sustained by the motorcyclist and the number of the lamppost nearest the accident, to which the caller said, “370F”. Towards the end of the call, the operator 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.
Based on the information provided by the caller, the SCDF ambulance that was dispatched could not locate the accident, i.e. they could not find any accident along the PIE towards Changi before Exit 8B. This prompted the paramedic in the ambulance to contact the caller to verify the exit and lamppost number, as these were essential reference points. This seemed to frustrate the caller who made snide remarks towards the paramedic. The paramedic then replied to the caller that she was uncomfortable with the tone of the caller, and subsequently disengaged from the call to focus the crew’s attention on locating the accident.
SCDF later established the accident to be instead along the Central Expressway (CTE) towards Seletar Expressway (SLE), before the PIE exit, after receiving a subsequent report from another caller on the same accident. The SCDF ambulance that was dispatched for this call arrived at the scene within 8 minutes, and subsequently conveyed a man to Tan Tock Seng Hospital.
There were no other accidents around the initial location reported by the caller, or the actual location, during that period of time.
SCDF’s Review of Case
In the review of the first call, the call centre operator had dispatched the ambulance based on the initial information from the caller, i.e., PIE towards Changi before Exit 8B. As for the follow-up call initiated by the paramedic, the audio recording from an in-vehicle camera within the SCDF ambulance found that the paramedic 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. 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.
Our responders work round the clock to save lives, and we will continue to make every effort to reach those in need of emergency aid. To further assist the accurate deployment of SCDF’s resources, members of the public are encouraged to call 995 using SCDF’s myResponder mobile application, which has geolocation technology to automatically determine a caller’s location.
Corporate Communications Department
Singapore Civil Defence Force