SCDF Warns That Response Time for Ambulances Might Be Delayed Due to Spike in 995 Calls

Rising 995 Calls Lead to Potential Delays in SCDF Ambulance Services

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) has been known for its swift response to emergencies of various types, often arriving within minutes.

However, this rapid response may now be under threat.

On 7 Dec, the SCDF alerted the public via Facebook that the first week of December saw an average of nearly 750 daily calls to the “995” emergency medical services (EMS).

This is a significant increase from the daily average of 650 between July and September.

On top of that, this surge marks a notable rise from the pre-COVID daily average of approximately 550 EMS calls.

There has been a worrying uptick in non-emergency calls: from 9,050 in 2021 to 11,538 in 2022, surpassing the 10,534 calls recorded in 2019, prior to the pandemic.

What could be the emergency in this joyous holiday season?

However, it’s clear that a substantial portion of these calls are for less critical cases.

In fact, nearly 5% of calls to the 995 hotline are deemed non-emergencies.

Maybe you’ve seen this Youtube ad going around the past month, featuring a catchy electronic tune under the song titled “What’s Your Emergency?!”

The SCDF, in collaboration with SGAG, launched an advertising campaign featuring the catchy song “What’s Your Emergency?!”, designed to encourage people to reserve the emergency line for genuine emergencies.

Is it really that jialat?

Image: YouTube (SCDF)

This campaign has gained widespread recognition and support, not only for its memorable tune but also for effectively conveying its crucial message.

Despite these efforts, the SCDF warns that if EMS call volumes continue to rise, delays in ambulance responses, particularly for less critical medical incidents, may occur.

This is due to the need to prioritise resources for life-threatening emergencies.

The Straits Times reported an increase in false alarm calls to the 995 hotline, rising to 6,089 in 2022 from 5,598 in 2021.

To manage this influx of calls, the SCDF has implemented several measures.

These include:

  • strategically redeploying ambulances to areas with higher emergency call volumes
  • more stringent assessment of emergency calls to ensure ambulances are dispatched only for genuine emergencies
  • refraining from transporting patients to hospitals when SCDF paramedics assess the conditions as non-critical.

The SCDF also wishes to remind the public of the actual critical, life-threatening emergencies that should prompt a 995 call:

Image: Facebook (SCDF)

The non-emergency ambulance number is 1777.