Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) paramedics will be progressively equipped with Body-Worn Cameras (BWCs), which is is a compact device worn over the ear, starting from Saturday (1 February 2019).

In a press release on Thursday (31 January), SCDF said that it expects to roll out the BWCs to all paramedics by 2020.

The authority said that the use of the BWCs will improve the quality and effectiveness of SCDF’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS).

It noted that it will also use the recordings for coaching and training purposes, as well as helping SCDF fine-tune its medical procedures.

According to SCDF, the BWCs will help provide for greater accountability with regard to the interactions between ambulance crew members and EMS patients.

I t added that in the long term, SCDF intends to incorporate live-streaming capabilities into the BWCs, which will allow off-site doctors to provide medical advice to paramedics attending to complex cases on the ground, where necessary.

Paramedics, however, SCDF said will stop recording in certain situations to respect the privacy of patients, such as maternity cases, noting that it has put in place strict controls and protocols to manage the use of the BWCs, and to safeguard the use, collection and storage of the recorded data.

It said that only authorised personnel will be allowed to handle the collection, storage and use of the data. Any access to the data will be logged to enable audit checks and will been crypted for added security.

SCDF stressed that it will also ensure that the data is deleted after 90 days from the date of recording, unless there is justification to retain it, for example to assist Police investigations.

Any officer who misuses the BWCs or data will be dealt with severely, it added.

Assistant Commissioner Yazid Abdullah, Director of SCDF’s Medical Department said, “The deployment of BWCs will allow SCDF to deliver better medical care and accountability to patients. This is part of our efforts to use technology to enhance our emergency ambulance operations and improve patient outcomes. At the same time, we have put in place robust control measures to regulate the use of the BWCs and the recorded data”.

Some Singaporeans expressed their concern regarding the matter and went to SCDF Facebook page to pop their concern.

Matthew Jason asked, “Is there is privacy agreement for those who do not wish to be recorded?”

SCDF answered, “Patients or their Next-Of-Kin (NOK) can request for the BWC to be switched off. Paramedics can exercise discretion to switch off the BWCs in certain situations, such as to protect the privacy of patients (e.g. maternity cases).”

Zack asked, “Do private operators get to use one of those or stricly only for SCDF?”

SCDF answered, “This initiative is introduced in phases. By 2020, all paramedics responding to 995 calls will use the BWCs.”

Alfred Liew wrote, “Please address the concern of modesty and how SCDF going to store the video. Imagine the paramedic have to unbutton a female casualty’s shirt and remove bra straps to prepare for AED while the whole process was recorded on video. Imagine we have to cut the pants till waist level to treat a wound while the camera is recording.”

SCDF responded,”Valid point indeed. We too are equally concerned about the privacy and modesty of our patients.
Patients or their Next-Of-Kin (NOK) can request for the BWC to be switched off. You can also be rest assured that our paramedics will exercise due discretion to switch off the BWCs in certain situations to protect the privacy of patients (e.g. maternity cases).”

Some also expressed their concerns regarding the safety of the data as there are a couple of leaks of data by the government, for example the data-leak of 14,200 HIV-positive individuals.

Nicholas Wong Mao Quan wrote, “Great move by SCDF ! Just hopefully that it won’t affect breach of PDPA and loss / hack of data.”