SCDF officers to get more powers for rescue operations
Officers from the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) will have the powers to obtain the personal identification of unconscious patients, as well as use force when necessary to carry out rescue operations, under changes to the law approved by Parliament yesterday.
Under changes proposed by the Civil Defence and Other Matters Bill, officers can obtain the fingerprints or personal information of an unconscious person in a medical emergency.
This will allow SCDF Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to identify patients and get relevant health information from the Ministry of Health (MOH) to administer appropriate and timely treatment, said Second Minister for Home Affairs Josephine Teo.
Mrs Teo said, of the 165,000 EMS patients the SCDF attended to last year, it was unable to identify about 8 per cent of them. Typically, these patients were unconscious or unresponsive and did not have identification documents.
The changes will let SCDF officers gather more information to treat a patient according to their medical history, she said.
"They can also share the patient's identity with the hospital, so that preparations can already be made at the emergency department even while the patient is being conveyed there by SCDF."
To safeguard this personal information, the Ministry of Home Affairs will work with the MOH to grant authorised personnel access strictly on a need-to-know basis.
To prevent misuse, security safeguards and clear guidelines will be developed, said Mrs Teo.
The amendments will also give SCDF officers more powers and protection to carry out emergency and rescue operations.
Officers will have explicit legal powers to carry out operations, such as those that require forceful entry into private premises, to protect lives and prevent injury and harm.
During the debate on the Bill, Mr Melvin Yong (Tanjong Pagar GRC) asked for details on how officers would obtain patients' information.
Mrs Teo said SCDF ambulance crew would have a device to scan the patient's fingerprint and check it remotely against the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority's database.
If there is a match, relevant information from the National Electronic Health Record system can be retrieved using the patient's NRIC or FIN number.