SAF medics to work in SCDF ambulances in pilot tie-up

A pilot starting in September will involve 12 SAF medics who will work closely with SCDF ambulance personnel to respond to civilian medical emergencies.
A pilot starting in September will involve 12 SAF medics who will work closely with SCDF ambulance personnel to respond to civilian medical emergencies.PHOTO: SINGAPORE CIVIL DEFENCE FORCE

They can hone their skills and boost civilian emergency responses as demand grows in light of ageing population

Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) medics will be deployed in Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) ambulances in a three-month pilot from September to keep their skills current and to help beef up emergency responses.

The project aims to meet the growing demand in calls for ambulances and emergency treatments, which are expected to increase 6 per cent annually in the light of Singapore's ageing population, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said yesterday.

"The SAF's primary mission is to defend the nation against external threats, but in the area of emergency care, using SAF medics to respond to civilian emergencies is synergistic and mutually helpful," said Dr Ng, who was speaking at the opening of the Asia-Pacific Military Health Exchange at The Ritz-Carlton Millenia hotel.

"It will meet the growing demand as well as allow our medics to keep their skills current, to better respond in times of military crises," he told some 500 delegates comprising senior military officers, medics and defence researchers from the Asia-Pacific.

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The pilot partnership will involve 12 SAF medics, comprising 10 full-time national servicemen and two regular servicemen, who will wear SCDF uniforms and work closely with SCDF personnel to respond to civilian medical emergencies.

The deployment will also allow the SAF to fine-tune its operating procedures with the SCDF, to enhance medical response during homeland security and civil contingency operations, said the Ministry of Defence.

Welcoming the tie-up, the SCDF said: "This initiative will bring about more opportunities for both forces to work closer together to respond to medical emergencies."

MUTUAL BENEFIT

The SAF's primary mission is to defend the nation against external threats, but in the area of emergency care, using SAF medics to respond to civilian emergencies is synergistic and mutually helpful.

DEFENCE MINISTER NG ENG HEN

Earlier this month, a new four-tier framework was announced to differentiate 995 calls based on the severity of patients' medical conditions, amid tightening manpower resources and an increasing number of 995 calls.

And as the SAF will have its manpower reduced by one-third from 2030, the SAF Medical Corps is reviewing vocational requirements to be more flexible and allow more soldiers to be deployed to each vocation, Dr Ng said. The review will be completed soon and will be implemented progressively, he added.

This is in line with Second Minister for Defence Ong Ye Kung's Parliament speech in March announcing that the SAF is reviewing vocation requirements to better deploy NSFs effectively according to their fitness and abilities, in the light of technological advances.

In Dr Ng's opening address yesterday, he also noted the long history of military medicine by sharing the myth of Chinese general Guan Yu from the Romance Of Three Kingdoms classic on how he refused anaesthesia and underwent surgery to cut poisoned flesh and scrape poison from the bone.

Dr Ng highlighted how advances in military medicine can have an impact on mainstream medicine for civilians, through responses to modern security challenges such as the 2003 Sars outbreak.

"Military medicine is a sub-speciality in its own right, and the whole society needs that expertise," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 24, 2017, with the headline 'SAF medics to work in SCDF ambulances in pilot tie-up'. Print Edition | Subscribe