Abuse of SCDF officers by patients on the rise

Abuse of SCDF officers by patients on the rise
(From left) Corporal Timothy Chua, Sergeant Abdullah Haron, 55, Sergeant Jeremy Liang and Sergeant Md Fadzli Md Padil, 33, are among SCDF front-line officers who have been on the receiving end of abuse from patients. ST PHOTO: ZAIHAN MOHAMED YUSOF

More Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) officers are being subjected to vulgarities, threats and even physical violence in the course of their duty.

The SCDF revealed yesterday that 26 cases of front-line officers being abused have been reported so far this year, up from 23 in the whole of last year.

The upward trend began in 2016 when 20 abuse cases were reported.

Paramedic Jeremy Liang was put in a headlock by a patient who also tried to punch another member of his ambulance crew, after the patient was found on the ground near a Punggol condominium in January last year.

"While we were taking the blood pressure (inside the ambulance), the patient initiated a punch, but didn't succeed," said Sergeant Liang, 32, who suffered some neck pain as they rushed the patient to hospital. "No matter what, (the person) is still my patient."

The patient was later jailed for three months.

Emergency medical technician Timothy Chua had a packet of rice thrown at him in an ambulance when he was a full-time national serviceman in October last year. The patient also threatened him with his walking stick while hurling vulgarities, and was later sentenced to 10 weeks in jail.

 

"This is the more extreme case (of abuse), but it's (in the) minority," said 24-year-old Corporal Chua, who was struck in the chest.

SCDF director of operations Daniel Seet said the organisation takes a "zero-tolerance" approach when it comes to abuse towards officers and would not hesitate to report the perpetrators to police.

"While most people appreciate what we do, there is unfortunately a minority that will physically or verbally abuse our front-liners," he said.

"The SCDF will strive to protect our officers against such unacceptable behaviour, which hinders them from carrying out their duties and can delay medical treatment of patients."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 14, 2018, with the headline 'Abuse of SCDF officers by patients on the rise'. Print Edition | Subscribe