SINGAPORE - The number of ambulance calls has climbed for the fifth year in a row, with nearly two in five of these cases involving the elderly, the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) revealed in its annual statistics on Thursday (Feb 18).
But at the same time, SCDF responded to fewer fire calls, which saw a 2.5 per cent drop compared to 2014.
There were 10,072 more calls to its emergency ambulance hotline last year (2015), a 6.5 per cent increase compared to 2014. The figure has contributed to an annual increase of about 5 per cent on average over the past five years.
Of the 165,853 calls to its emergency hotline, close to two in five -37.4 per cent - were for cases involving those aged 65 and above.
In all, calls received from the elderly grew by 7.1 per cent to 62,051 last year, up from 57, 931 in 2014.
The SCDF expects this trend to continue due to Singapore's greying population, and said this would result in a greater load on its resources.
To cope with the demand, SCDF added five private emergency vehicles to its fleet in December and began cross-training its firefighters to provide a first line of medical response to victims in critical cases.
In addition, it aims to rope in more trained community first responders, who will be able to attend to time-critical cases such as cardiac arrests.
The initiative includes encouraging members of the public trained in Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and Automated External Defribrillator (AED) usage to register on its MyResponder mobile application, which is able to alert responders in the vicinity.
Meanwhile, fire calls dipped from the 4,724 cases in 2014 to 4,604 last year, with more than three in five calls involving fires in homes.
Dropped light fires, which refer to the indiscriminate disposal of lighted materials such as cigarette butts, remain the biggest cause at 54.9 per cent.
Fires in non-residential premises, particularly at eating establishments such as restaurants and coffee shops, also decreased.
There were 505 fire incidents in non-residential places, down 10.6 per cent from 2014.
Of the 50 fires cases at eating establishments, 15 cases were due to unattended cooking.
In a bid to educate food and beverage operators on fire safety, SCDF worked with the National Fire and Civil Emergency Preparedness Council and the Singapore Foochow Coffee Restaurant and Bar Merchants Association last year to conduct workshops.
The number of vehicle fires that occurred while the vehicles were on the road fell by 14.6 per cent last year to 199 cases.
Last year, the number of fire injuries remained the same as 2014, while the number of fatalities halved to four.
Two died from a fire at Lorong 6 Geylang in April and another two died from a fire which engulfed a Parry Avenue home in June.
The SCDF also ramped up its enforcement last year, conducting 16,165 checks. This was a 16.3 per cent increase from the 13,903 checks conducted in 2014.