Non-emergency calls to SCDF down 15% amid pandemic

Number of false alarm calls also falls significantly in the first half of this year

The number of non-emergency and false alarm calls to the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) fell significantly in the first half of this year.

This was due to more people staying at home amid the Covid-19 pandemic and greater public awareness about not calling 995 for non-emergencies, said the SCDF.

Non-emergency calls for emergency medical services (EMS) - where urgent medical assistance is not required - dropped by 15.4 per cent to 3,978 in the first half of this year from 4,704 in the same period last year.

The number of false alarm EMS calls - where no patients are found - also slid by 16.4 per cent to 2,674 from 3,200 in the first half of last year, according to statistics released by the SCDF yesterday.

Having fewer non-emergency and false alarm calls frees up SCDF resources to tackle emergency and life-threatening situations.

In 2019, SCDF responded to more than 17,000 non-emergency and false alarm calls.

This made up more than 9 per cent of all EMS calls that year, or an average of 48 non-emergency and false alarm calls a day, said SCDF previously, adding that such calls were an area of concern.

Non-emergency cases would not be taken to hospital but advised to go to a clinic or to call 1777 for a non-emergency ambulance, allowing resources to be deployed only for serious emergencies.

Toothaches, diarrhoea, coughs and headaches are examples of non-emergencies.

SCDF responded to 97,485 EMS calls in the first half of this year, up 1.4 per cent from 96,105 in the same period last year.

It responded to 944 fire calls in the first half of this year - a decrease of 0.6 per cent from the same period last year.

There were 513 fire incidents in private and public residential premises, down 2.7 per cent from last year.

Fires involving cooking activities accounted for the bulk of cases - 188 - in these places, followed by 131 fires of electrical origin.

Dropped-light fires - those involving lighted materials such as embers from charcoal or cigarette butts - made up 84 cases.

"In the event of an oil fire, do not pour water into the wok or cookware. Turn off the gas supply immediately and use a lid or a wet cloth to cover the wok or cookware. Call 995 for SCDF assistance if the fire goes out of control," it said.

There were 29 fires involving personal mobility devices (PMDs) and power-assisted bicycles (PABs) in the first half of this year - 32.6 per cent lower than a year ago.

The number of fires involving PMDs plunged 34.6 per cent to 17 cases, and those involving PABs fell 29.4 per cent to 12 cases.

SCDF advised PMD and PAB users not to charge batteries or devices unattended for an extended period or overnight.

They should also not charge the items immediately after use, near combustible materials or along an escape path, and refrain from tampering with, modifying and repairing the devices on their own.

It added that power adaptors should carry the Safety Mark, and device users should regularly examine the batteries for damage or deformities such as bloating, corrosion or powdery residue.

The SCDF operations centre sent 53 visual guides from March 1 to June 30.

These GIF animations act as visual guides to 995 callers to help them to render immediate aid to a victim who is suffering from cardiac arrest or choking.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 13, 2021, with the headline 'Non-emergency calls to SCDF down 15% amid pandemic'. Subscribe