Crew members from two private ambulance operators trained for a wider range of emergencies will respond to calls in Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) ambulances and uniforms under a new arrangement.
The new contracting model between SCDF and private ambulance operators Unistrong Technology and Lentor Ambulance starts today as part of SCDF's efforts to enhance its operational capabilities and readiness.
Paramedics from the private ambulance operators will respond to complex medical emergencies, including mass casualty incidents and those involving chemical, biological, radiological and explosive elements. They will be in SCDF uniforms while doing so, SCDF said in a statement yesterday.
Director of SCDF Emergency Medical Services Yong Meng Wah said the tie-up is a response to an "increasingly complex operating environment and greater demand for emergency medical services".
Under the new model, the private ambulance operators will provide paramedics who will operate 30 SCDF-issued ambulances assigned to them in fire stations across Singapore.
SCDF began using private ambulances in 2009 to augment its fleet.
Previously, private ambulance operators owned and maintained their own fleets.
Under the new set-up, SCDF will also issue additional ambulances to the two private ambulance operators, which can be activated during major prolonged emergencies.
SCDF will maintain overall command and control over all medical resources, which may include private ambulances and crew deployed to large-scale incidents.
From next year, all new private ambulance operator recruits will be required to attend an upskilling programme to equip them with the skills needed to respond to complex medical emergencies.
Private ambulance staff must also undergo half-yearly re-certification tests administered by SCDF.
In response to queries from The Straits Times, an SCDF spokesman said: "There have been no recent mass casualty incidents or threats involving chemical, biological, radiological and explosive elements.
"Nevertheless, we must always be prepared for such possibilities."
SCDF also said it is working towards prioritising its emergency medical services resources to respond to more severe, life-threatening medical emergencies.