SCDF Emergency Medical Services
SCDF operates a 24-hour Emergency Medical Services (EMS), which is ready to respond to any medical emergency in Singapore. The EMS crew is well trained and equipped to handle a wide range of medical emergencies.
Call 995 For Emergencies Only
Close to 23,000 life-and-death cases were attended to by SCDF in 2018, over 60 calls a day. In a life-threatening emergency, every second counts. You can make a difference between life and death by knowing what is an emergency. For life-threatening cases such as cardiac arrest, active seizures, breathlessness, major traumas and stroke, call 995.
Each year, about 10% of 995 calls are non-emergencies, an average of 50 calls a day. These calls could have delayed SCDF's response to life-threatening emergencies, where every second counts.
Since April 2019, SCDF will not convey non-emergency cases to hospitals. Such cases will be advised to seek treatment from their family doctor or general practitioner at nearby clinics. For non-emergency cases who insist on going to a hospital, they will be advised to make their own arrangements or call 1777 for a non-emergency ambulance at a fee.
Examples of non emergencies: toothaches, diarrhoea, coughs and headaches
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EMS Tiered Response Framework
The EMS response framework was officially introduced on 1 April 2017. The framework will improve the overall health outcomes of EMS users, by allowing our EMS resources to respond to life-threatening cases faster.
This framework is premised on:
- Differentiating 995 calls based on the seriousness of the patients’ medical condition. This is done through the telephone medical triaging and prioritisation of each ‘995’ call.
- Secondly, matching the scale of SCDF resources and speed of response to the severity of each call. It is based on case acuity, from the most critical life-threatening emergencies to minor emergencies and non-emergencies.
SCDF is committed to respond to all emergency calls. However not every emergency call is a life threatening situation. The scale of SCDF resources and speed of response must commensurate with the case severity. For instance, utmost priority will be given to an individual suffering from a highly time-sensitive life-threatening emergencies, such as cardiac arrest, as opposed to minor emergencies like cuts or bruises.
The categories of medical cases and SCDF’s corresponding response are as follows:
Telephone Medical Triaging
The Operations Centre specialists, supported by SCDF paramedics and staff nurses from the Ministry of Health, are specially trained to accurately classify each EMS call based on its severity and provide medical advice to callers before the arrival of SCDF responders.
The public will be asked to provide pertinent information on the patient’s condition when they call 995 for EMS assistance. The cooperation of the caller in providing such information during an emergency is critical for the EMS response to achieve its desired efficacy. Where necessary, the Operations Centre Specialists would also provide the callers with medical advice such as in performing CPR procedure on a cardiac arrest victim prior to the arrival of SCDF at the scene.
Where there are uncertainties over the exact condition of the patients during the telephone medical triaging, SCDF will adopt a cautious approach by deploying its resources on-site to better assess the severity of the patients and render medical treatment where required.
FRS-EMT Response to Medical Emergencies
Over 300 SCDF Fire Response Specialists (FRS) have been trained as Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) since 2012. These FRS-EMTs are able to respond to fire/rescue and medical emergencies.
FRS-EMTs on Fire Bikes attends to life-threatening emergencies. Each bike is equipped with a medical bag that contains a slew of essential medical items such as medical drugs, oxygen cylinders, AED set and diagnostic equipment. The mobility of the FRS-EMT on bike allows for quick arrival at the scene ahead of an ambulance, to stabilise and render immediate medical treatment to patient in life-threatening situations.
Fire Medical Vehicle
FRS-EMTs are also deployed to operate the Fire Medical Vehicle (FMV). The customized FMV is a hybrid of a fire appliance and an ambulance for dual response to either fire-rescue or medical emergencies. The FMV will be deployed for minor emergencies namely, industrial and road traffic accidents, to stabilise and treat the patients and, where necessary, convey them to hospital.
Life-threatening cases are critically time-sensitive and will receive enhanced SCDF medical support and a faster response. Starting from 1 April 2019, SCDF has implemented high-performance cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) progressively to improve the treatment of victims who suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. A high-quality CPR is the key to improving survival from cardiac arrest.
In such cases, more emergency responders will be dispatched to render prompt medical treatment and perform concerted high performance CPR on victims. SCDF will deploy additional EMTs in red rhino/fire engine/FMVs, in addition to sending an emergency ambulance and a fire bike.
High performance CPR requires EMTs to work in precise unison with the ambulance EMS crew as a team to carry out procedures which will greatly improve the chances of the victim’s survival. These include a focus on cutting down unnecessary pauses in chest compressions, as well as ensuring that chest compressions are done to the ideal depth, at an appropriate rate and with controlled ventilation.
1777 Non-Emergency Ambulance
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. Which hospital will patient be conveyed to?
Patients will be conveyed to the nearest appropriate Ministry of Health-designated hospital by travel time. The fastest arrival of patients at the nearest hospital with the appropriate medical facility can make all the difference between life and death in an emergency.
2. Can patients request for SCDF emergency ambulances to send them to any hospital of their choice?
SCDF emergency ambulances will only convey patients to the nearest appropriate Ministry of Health-designated hospital by travel time with the appropriate medical facility so that they can receive immediate medical attention.
3. Will I receive priority treatment at the A&E Department if I arrive in an SCDF emergency ambulance?
All patients arriving at A&E Department will be assessed by the medical staff at the hospital. Those assessed as critical will be attended to first, followed by less critical cases.
4. Will I be charged for using an SCDF emergency ambulance?
SCDF does not charge for any emergency cases it conveys to hospitals. Since April 2019, SCDF no longer conveys non-emergency cases to hospitals. However, $274 will be charged for each non-emergency case that SCDF conveys to hospital.
For non-emergency cases such as toothaches, diarrhoea, coughs and headaches, make your way to the nearest clinic. For those who insist on going to a hospital, you are advised to make your own travel arrangements or call 1777 for a non-emergency ambulance at a fee.
Note: The final outcome of the emergency / non-emergency status of a patient will be based on the assessment of the doctor at the Emergency Department of the receiving hospital
5. What do I tell the 995 Operations Centre Specialists?
To facilitate a faster response to the patient, the 995 caller should do the following:
- Identify yourself and provide a telephone number.
- Provide the location and specific address/postal code or nearest prominent or landmark such as lamp post numbers or bus stop numbers. If you are calling 995 from an open area with no landmarks/buildings etc, you can use myResponder app to contact 995 which will register your location.
- Describe the patient's signs and symptoms briefly with the help of a list of guided questions e.g. male, Chinese, 67 years old, having severe chest pain since 2 minutes ago, breathless, sweating.
- Be calm and follow the instructions of the call taker. Do not hang up the telephone unless told to do so by the call taker.
- Send somebody to wait for the EMS crew e.g. by opening the door or proceed to the lift lobby to direct the EMS crew to the patient.
- If the condition of the patient deteriorates, to immediately call 995 for further instructions.