These SCDF paramedics are trained to fight fires, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

These SCDF paramedics are trained to fight fires

This article is more than 12 months old

Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) officers are highly regarded for their lifesaving skills, with most either specialising in tackling raging blazes or providing emergency ambulance response.

But a small group have now been trained as both paramedics and firefighters, in line with the force's push to have its personnel respond to different kinds of incidents.

There are now around 10 officers who started out as paramedics and trained to become firefighters. After their stints in the two areas, many of them go on to work in policy-related roles, making use of knowledge they gained on both fronts.

Lieutenant Yeo Ren Jie, 30, who was a paramedic for six years, completed his training as a senior fire and rescue officer last year.

Knowing both operations has allowed him to integrate the different skills, and is helping him to make decisions on the ground as a rota commander at Yishun Fire Station, a role he took on about a month ago.

Previously, "a clear line was drawn" between fire and medical operations, said Lt Yeo. "For example, when firefighters extricate a person, the medical side (paramedics) takes over. Now it's about blending them together."

While the role of a firefighter is generally still perceived as more dangerous than that of a paramedic, Captain (Capt) Amelia Justina Lim, 37, believes they are equally challenging.

"As a firefighter, you're managing a big group and a large incident scene that can change anytime," said Capt Lim, a emergency medical services (EMS) team leader at the 3rd SCDF Division.

"As a paramedic, your incident scene is smaller because you might focus on one patient, but it's equally dynamic. And in both you have to rise up to the occasion."

For Major Janice Oh, 41, making the switch from ambulances to fire engines was an exciting journey and the nine months of intensive firefighting training was a learning experience, she said.

Maj Oh, the assistant director of the force's EMS Readiness department, was the first paramedic to be "cross-trained" as a firefighter in 2005.

She currently oversees the force's EMS tiered-response framework which was implemented in 2017 and deploys resources according to seriousness of a medical incident.

"Having been at the front line in both roles, it puts me in a better position to make decisions," she said.