Michelle Chong's Ah Lian reminds public not to misuse 995 in SCDF video

Actress Michelle Chong, playing a persona named Ah Lian, highlights how 995 calls should not be misused for non-emergency situations.
Actress Michelle Chong, playing a persona named Ah Lian, highlights how 995 calls should not be misused for non-emergency situations.PHOTO: FACEBOOK/SINGAPORE CIVIL DEFENCE FORCE

SINGAPORE - This Ah Lian may not be peddling stuff on live-stream, but the cause she sells is an important one.

In a 30-second video by the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), actress Michelle Chong, playing a persona named Ah Lian, highlights how 995 calls should not be misused for non-emergency situations.

The video, posted on SCDF's Facebook page last Thursday (Oct 4), has since garnered more than 100,000 views and 300 shares.

In it, Ah Lian makes an emergency call to 995 for a toothache, and the officer on the line, also played by Chong, reminds her that those with non-emergency cases should go to the nearest clinic or call 1777 instead.

In response to queries from The Straits Times,  SCDF said the video is part of efforts to raise public awareness on the new Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Response Framework, which was introduced in April last year to allow EMS resources to respond accordingly to the severity of each case.

SCDF said Chong was chosen because of her "versatility and ability to connect with a wide audience".

The campaign will run from this month to February next year and will focus on raising awareness on using the 995 hotline for emergencies only and to educate the public on SCDF's fire bikers. 

Chong said of her role in the campaign: "I'm proud to be fronting this campaign because it is extremely important that everyone understands that the 995 hotline is for medical emergencies only and 1777 is for non-emergencies.

"When you dial 995 for non-emergencies like constipation or skin rashes, you not only waste the phone operator's time to triage your case, you also deprive others with emergencies from getting the medical attention they urgently need from the EMS crew."

SCDF added that non-emergency calls made up 6.2 per cent, or 11,384, of 995 calls last year. 

In 2016, SCDF handled close to 180,000 emergency calls, of which almost 19,000 were false alarms and for non-urgent ailments such as constipation and chronic cough.

In July this year, SCDF said it would be using an artificial intelligence speech recognition system to transcribe and log calls to make the process more efficient. However, details of when the system will be implemented have yet to be announced.

Chong has also appeared in advertisements for the Singapore Tourism Board, Netflix and Pizza Hut. Last year, her Ah Lian character also featured in promotional trailers for Netflix series Orange Is The New Black.