In mid-April 2021, the new seventh-generation ambulance was unveiled at the SCDF’s annual work plan seminar. The seventh-generation ambulance is designed to tackle both present and future pre-hospital emergency challenges. To be better prepared for future pandemics, an automatic decontamination mist-spray system is built into the vehicle. It sprays non-toxic and non-corrosive disinfectant to decontaminate the ambulance in 20 minutes with the press of a button. The ambulance also utilises solar-power and intelligent charging system to increase operational readiness and flexibility especially during off-site deployments. Other features include a modular equipment storage system and an electronic pulley-controlled loading and unloading system for stretchers that reduces the risk of accidental drop. The new ambulance is a collaboration between SCDF and the Home Team Science and Technology Agency.
SCDF’s seventh-generation ambulance.
The seventh-generation ambulance has a modular storage system that allows medical equipment to be rearranged or carried around with ease.
The interior of the seventh-generation ambulance
The automatic loading/unloading stretcher is built for more efficient conveyance and to reduce the risk of accidental drop.
The SCDF continues to innovate and harness technology to better serve the public. Since the time of the Singapore Fire Brigade till now, we have certainly come a long way in enhancing the capabilities of our ambulances to overcome the challenges we face at the frontlines. Let us take a look at how Singapore’s ambulances have evolved over the years.
The First-Generation Ambulance
In the 1960s, the streets of Singapore had two different ambulance services running in parallel.
The Accident Ambulance Service operated by the Singapore Fire Brigade responded to victims of fires and accidents, and the Central Ambulance Service operated by the Singapore General Hospital responded to medical cases. Both services used the iconic Volkswagen Transporter model ambulances. In 1977, both services merged to form the Emergency Ambulance Service under the command of the Singapore Fire Service.
The Volkswagen Transporter (1959) was the ambulance operated by the Singapore Fire Brigade.
The Volkswagen Transporter (1960s to 1970s) was the ambulance operated by the Singapore General Hospital with nurses seconded from Ministry of Health as ‘Ambulance Officers’.
The Second-Generation Ambulance
In the 1980s, more fleet of ambulances came with modern equipment such as the Stair Chair, which was introduced to ease the movement of casualties from high-rise buildings. The defibrillator was also introduced in the Emergency Ambulance Service for the first time, along with microvent resuscitator oxygen delivery device, intravenous infusions capabilities and wooden splints for management of fractures. Spinal immobilisation devices such as the Short Backboard and Scoop Stretcher were also utilised.
Volkswagen LT31 (1984) was one of the models for the second-generation ambulances.
The Third-Generation Ambulance
In 1989, the Mercedes Benz model ambulances were rolled out with added capability for more complex operations. The Kendrick Extrication Device was introduced for vehicle extrications. The splinting equipment was upgraded to a very popular and effective Frac Immobiliser system.
The Mercedes Benz 3103350 (1993) was one of the models for SCDF’s third-generation ambulances.
The Fourth-Generation Ambulance
In 1996, the SCDF started its own Paramedic Scheme to replace the nurses from the Ministry of Health. In addition, SCDF brought in the larger Class-4 ambulances from Mercedes Benz, fondly referred to as “The Box” by the ambulance personnel.
The fourth-generation ambulances had a larger rear cabin allowing more room for movement. This series of ambulances saw the introduction of the in-vehicle Mobile Data Terminals that contains dispatch information and incident tracking.
The above two models, Mercedes Benz Sprinter 314.3550 (2002) [left] and Mercedes Benz Sprinter 416CDi-3550 (2004) [right], were the earlier models for SCDF’s fourth-generation ambulances.
The Fifth-Generation Ambulance
In 2014, the SCDF introduced the Class-3 emergency ambulances under its fleet renewal initiative. These Class-3 ambulances can manoeuvre Singapore’s narrow and single land roads with greater ease, thus reducing response time to the calls of distress. They were redesigned to meet the international standard for ambulances and medical transportation. The fifth-generation ambulances were leaner, faster and placed much emphasis on ergonomics.
The Mercedes Benz Sprinter 316 CDI A (Version 1), is one of the models for SCDF’s fifth-generation ambulances.
The Sixth-Generation Ambulance
The Mercedes Benz Sprinter 316 CDI A (above) is one of the models for SCDF’s sixth-generation ambulances.
The sixth-generation ambulances have advanced safety features such as the collision warning system, lane keeping assistance and rumbler siren.
The interior walls of these ambulances are made of fire-resistant materials. The interior of the rear cabin features advanced ergonomics, with ease of reaching into cabinets and compartments containing medical devices and supplies.