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    Feb 19, 2016

    More ambulance calls from the elderly

    THE number of ambulance calls has climbed for the fifth year in a row, with nearly two in five of these cases involving the elderly, the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) revealed in its annual statistics yesterday.

    But at the same time, SCDF responded to fewer fire calls, which saw a 2.5 per cent drop last year, compared with 2014.

    There were 10,072 more calls to its emergency ambulance hotline last year, a 6.5 per cent increase compared with 2014. The figure has contributed to an annual increase of about 5 per cent on average over the past five years.

    Of the 165,853 calls to its emergency hotline, close to two in five - 37.4 per cent - were for cases involving those aged 65 and above.

    In all, calls received from the elderly grew by 7.1 per cent to 62,051 last year, up from 57,931 in 2014.

    The SCDF expects this trend to continue due to Singapore's greying population, and said this would result in a greater load on its resources.

    To cope with the demand, SCDF added five private emergency vehicles to its fleet in December and began cross-training its firefighters to provide a first line of medical response to victims in critical cases.

    In addition, it aims to rope in more trained community first responders, who will be able to attend to time-critical cases such as cardiac arrests.

    The initiative includes encouraging members of the public, trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and automated external defribrillator, to register on its MyResponder mobile application, which alerts responders in the vicinity.

    Meanwhile, fire calls dipped from the 4,724 cases in 2014 to 4,604 last year, with more than three in five calls involving blazes in homes.

    Dropped light fires, which refer to the indiscriminate disposal of lighted materials such as cigarette butts, remain the biggest cause at 54.9 per cent.