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The Straits Times
May 14, 2022
The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) responded to a Facebook post that criticised the manner in which an SCDF officer handled a 995 phone call, saying the caller provided the wrong location and that the responder remained calm and polite.
The post, credited to "Pam Kaur" on Facebook group "Singapore Roads accident.com" on May 8, said a call was made to SCDF to report an accident involving a car and a motorcyclist.
The writer said although the caller provided the location of the accident several times - including the number of the nearest lamp post - SCDF called back a second time to confirm it. The writer then posted about the "incompetence, lack of urgency and stupidity" of the SCDF officer.
The post also said that the SCDF officer then hung up on the caller after she said she did not like the caller's tone.
SCDF said on Saturday (May 14) that it takes a serious view of such feedback and immediately started an investigation to look into the facts of the case and review the conversation recordings between the caller and SCDF officer.
In response to the incident, SCDF said: "We commend the public-spiritedness of the callers who had stopped to assist and call 995 upon witnessing the accident.
"We would like to highlight that it is an established and sound procedure for 995 call centre operators to ask callers for key information such as prominent landmarks, building names, expressways, road names and lamp post numbers, especially when there is no specific address."
It added that, at times, SCDF may need to further clarify the information, particularly when responders cannot locate the reported incident.
"We seek the public's understanding and patience about this," it said.
Regarding this particular case, SCDF said its 995 call centre received a call about a road traffic accident and the location was reported by the caller to be along the Pan-Island Expressway (PIE) towards Changi before Exit 8B.
The 995 call centre operator then repeated the reported location to the caller for verification.
The operator also asked for further details such as the nature of the injuries and the number of the lamp post nearest the accident, to which the caller said, "370F".
The operator then attempted to verify the direction on the PIE where the accident was located, to which the caller replied that it was on his exit towards Changi but that he was going towards Central Expressway (CTE), and repeated the lamp post number.
SCDF said the operator then assured the caller that the ambulance was already on its way and thanked him.
But the SCDF ambulance could not find the accident based on the information provided by the caller, SCDF added, which prompted the paramedic in the ambulance to contact the caller about the exit and lamp post number.
"This seemed to frustrate the caller who made snide remarks towards the paramedic. The paramedic then replied to the caller that she was uncomfortable with the tone of the caller, and subsequently disengaged from the call to focus the crew's attention on locating the accident," SCDF said.
It later found that the accident was instead along the CTE towards Seletar Expressway, before the PIE exit, after receiving a report from another caller on the same incident.
The SCDF ambulance that was dispatched for this call arrived at the scene within eight minutes and subsequently took a man to Tan Tock Seng Hospital.
SCDF said: "There were no other accidents around the initial location reported by the caller, or the actual location, during that period of time."
It added: "As for the follow-up call initiated by the paramedic, the audio recording from an in-vehicle camera within the SCDF ambulance found that the paramedic had remained calm and polite with the caller throughout, even at the point when she said that she was not comfortable with the caller's tone and subsequently disengaged the call."
SCDF also noted that members of the public can call 995 using SCDF's myResponder mobile application, which has geolocation technology to automatically determine a caller's location.