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25 Feb 2022

25th Feb 2022

1. The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) and the Ministry of Health (MOH) urge members of the public to only call 995 Emergency Medical Services (EMS) for life-threatening emergencies1.

2. 995 EMS calls to SCDF have increased from an average of 635 calls a day in January 2022 to an average of 830 calls a day in the first two weeks of February 2022. On 14 February 2022, SCDF experienced an even sharper spike to about 1,000 calls. This has added significant stress on our paramedics who are already under significant pressure. In comparison, the average daily number of EMS calls before COVID-19 was only about 550.

3. Approximately 1,700 calls in January 2022 and about 2,500 calls in the first two weeks of February 2022 were from COVID-19 patients. However, about 45% of them only needed day treatment at the hospital and did not need to be hospitalised.

4. SCDF 995 EMS are meant to provide swift conveyance to hospital for people with life-threatening and emergency medical conditions. They need to be prioritised for such. Hence, we appeal to individuals who are not suffering any life-threatening or emergency medical conditions2 to refrain from calling 995. If EMS calls continue to climb, the public may experience delays in ambulance response even for medical emergencies.

5. In the first two weeks of February 2022, our public hospitals saw a high number of patients at their ED, an average of about 3,100 a day, resulting in long queues and waiting times. This is an increase of about 15% compared to January. Up to 80% of these patients needed only day treatment at the ED and did not need to be hospitalised. If many patients with non-emergency conditions turn up at the ED, it could compromise the provision of emergency medical care for those who really require it. We urge the public to seek medical treatment at a hospital’s ED only for serious or life-threatening emergencies.

6. MOH and SCDF have worked together to streamline the triaging and conveyance of COVID-19 patients. COVID-19 patients who are stable and do not require any management of acute emergency symptoms, will be conveyed by SCDF to a COVID-19 Treatment Facility (CTF) directly if they are assessed to require further medical monitoring and management of non-emergency medical conditions. This direct conveyance will begin with the CTF at NTUC Health Nursing Home at Tampines from 26 February 2022.

7. Individuals who are under the Home Recovery Programme or awaiting conveyance to a care or isolation facility, and who are experiencing only mild symptoms, are advised to first seek medical help via the following channels, rather than to call 995 or walk into EDs:

a. A telemedicine provider (go.gov.sg/telemedicineproviders); 
b. Their regular primary care provider; or 
c. The HR Buddy hotline (6874 4939).

8. Those who have self-tested positive on a self-administered Antigen Rapid Test (ART) and have no or mild symptoms, should simply self-isolate at home, for at least 72 hours. If really necessary, they can book an appointment at any Combined Test Centre (CTC) or Quick Test Centre (QTC) to do a supervised self-administered ART. If they are feeling unwell or experiencing symptoms such as fever or persistent cough, they can visit a Public Health Preparedness Clinic (PHPC) via private transport for medical attention. The public may access the latest list of General Practitioner (GP) clinics and their operating hours at:

• MOH website
• The Agency for Integrated Care’s (AIC) website;
• Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) webpage; and
• HealthHub mobile application, which is available on both the App Store and the Google Play Store.

9. As we transit to living with COVID-19, appropriate and prudent use of 995 EMS and ED services are important. It will ensure that patients truly requiring emergency medical care are able to receive it in a timely manner.

[1] These conditions include sudden onset of chest pain, breathlessness, drowsiness or confusion, sudden onset of limb or body weakness, difficulty in speech, or drooping of the face, severe bleeding from injuries, loss of consciousness, and unexplained jerking of the body or fits.

[2] Non-life threatening conditions include cases such as bone fracture, cuts with bleeding and accidents with bruising or swelling.

SINGAPORE CIVIL DEFENCE FORCE 
MINISTRY OF HEALTH