Singapore

Call 995 only in life-threatening situations, not for Covid infection

The authorities have urged the public not to dial 995 for non-emergency cases, including those who have contracted Covid-19.

This comes as almost half of Covid-19 patients who recently called for emergency medical services (EMS) did not require urgent treatment.

In a statement yesterday, the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said dialling 995 to activate EMS should be used only in life-threatening situations.

This is to aid in providing "responsive conveyance for those with emergency conditions".

The SCDF 995 Operations Centre received about 5,500 calls for medical assistance from Oct 15 to 21. About 20 per cent of these calls were from Covid-19 patients, said MOH and SCDF.

Of these patients, 47 per cent received outpatient treatment at the emergency departments of various hospitals and were discharged on the same day, and 15 per cent were hospitalised for two days or fewer.

AMBULANCE DELAYED

A letter to The Straits Times Forum on Oct 7 by Ms Tan Kexin related her account of how ambulance services were delayed because of the high number of Covid-19 cases.

When she dialled 995 after her father collapsed in the toilet, she was told to expect a "30- to 40-minute" wait for an ambulance to arrive at their home as they were all out covering Covid-19 patients.

Responding to Ms Tan's letter, SCDF said the virus situation has caused a tremendous strain on the healthcare system, with a 35 per cent increase from the daily average of 550 calls requiring EMS to 750 calls a day.

The agency reassured the public that its EMS response prioritises life-threatening emergencies.

Since 2017, a 995 call triaging system has been implemented to assess and differentiate medical cases based on their severity.

The public is advised to call 1777 for a non-emergency ambulance to free up resources for emergencies. - THE STRAITS TIMES

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