SCDF, MOH urge public to call 995 only for life-threatening emergencies

SCDF and MOH said 995 calls are meant for those with life-threatening and emergency medical conditions to be taken to hospital swiftly, and need to be prioritised. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) and the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Friday (Feb 25) urged members of the public to call the 995 emergency medical services only for life-threatening emergencies.

In a joint statement, they said such calls have increased from an average of 635 a day last month to an average of 830 a day in the first two weeks of this month.

On Feb 14, SCDF experienced an even sharper spike of about 1,000 calls, adding even more pressure on paramedics.

The average daily number of such calls before the pandemic was about 550.

SCDF and MOH said 995 calls are meant for those with life-threatening and emergency medical conditions to be taken to hospital swiftly, and need to be prioritised.

About 1,700 of the calls in January and around 2,500 of the calls in the first two weeks of this month were from Covid-19 patients.

However, about 45 per cent of them needed only day treatment at the hospital.

"If emergency medical services calls continue to climb, the public may experience delays in ambulance response even for medical emergencies," SCDF and MOH said.

In the first two weeks of this month, public hospitals saw a high number of patients at their emergency department - about 15 per cent more compared with January. This has resulted in long queues and waiting times.

Up to 80 per cent of these patients needed only day treatment.

SCDF and MOH said: "If many patients with non-emergency conditions turn up at the emergency departments, it could compromise the provision of emergency medical care for those who really require it."

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MOH and SCDF said Covid-19 patients who are stable and do not require any management of acute emergency symptoms will be taken by SCDF to a Covid-19 Treatment Facility (CTF) if they are assessed to require further medical monitoring.

This direct conveyance will begin with the CTF at NTUC Health Nursing Home at Tampines from Saturday (Feb 26).

Individuals who are under the Home Recovery Programme or waiting to be taken to a care or isolation facility, and who are experiencing only mild symptoms, are urged to first seek medical help via the following channels, rather than to call 995 or walk into EDs:

a. A telemedicine provider (Go to this website);
b. Their regular primary care provider; or
c. The HR Buddy hotline (6874-4939).

Those who have self-tested positive via Antigen Rapid Test and have no or mild symptoms, should simply self-isolate at home, for at least 72 hours.

If they are feeling unwell or experiencing symptoms such as fever or persistent cough, they can visit a Public Health Preparedness Clinic via private transport for medical attention.

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