As of July, around 600 callers to the 995 hotline were redirected to visit clinics or call for a non-emergency ambulance instead of being sent to a hospital.
That was about three months after a new policy kicked in for the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) as part of its 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 yesterday.
He noted that the SCDF move had saved resources that 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 is going to be a delay, and that puts lives at risk," he said.
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 taken to the hospital, 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.