SINGAPORE – As of July, around 600 callers to the 995 hotline were redirected to visit clinics or call for a non-emergency ambulance.

That was about three months after a new policy kicked in for the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) as part of its new Emergency Medical Services Tiered Response Framework, which assigns and deals with 995 calls based on three categories: life-threatening cases, minor emergencies, and non-emergencies.

The figures were disclosed by Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam at the official opening of the Kallang Fire Station on Wednesday (Oct 9).

He noted that the SCDF move had saved resources which could be utilised for more severe cases.

This is the right path for the SCDF, said Mr Shanmugam.

“If the ambulance is sending someone on a non-emergency case, and there is a case that requires cardiopulmonary resuscitation, there’s going to be a delay and that puts lives at risk,” said Mr Shanmugam.

Currently, about 10 per cent of the 500 ambulance calls received by the SCDF every day are still false alarms, or for non-emergencies.

“You can imagine the amount of wastage, the resources which are being wasted,” said Mr Shanmugam.

Such non-emergency calls fell by about 9 per cent last year, thanks to public outreach efforts but about 7 per cent of such callers still insist on being sent to the hospital by the SCDF, the minister added.

“We will have to continue to explain to our people, why we have a Tiered Response, and that emergency response is for emergency cases,” he said.