The Caregiver


Use of Ambulance





In Singapore, the Emergency Medical Service (EMS) is operated by the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) and it can be reached by dialing 995.  The service is designed to provide an immediate response to patients with life-threatening situations.  EMS should therefore be called during medical emergencies.


Calling 995 for non-medical emergencies could cost lives.  The SCDF EMS is always on stand-by for true emergencies where every second counts.  The speedy arrival of an emergency ambulance could mean the difference between life and death for a seriously injured or ill person.  If calls to 995 are inappropriate, answering and responding to non-emergencies would only disrupt its duties from saving lives.


Hence, we have to understand the implications of dialing 995 when we need an ambulance service.  Dial 1777 instead if an ambulance is required for non-emergency condition.  With appropriate use of the SCDF EMS, we could ensure the effectiveness and efficiency of its operation.


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When Should You Call an Emergency Ambulance Service?

An emergency ambulance service is required when an illness or injury could end in death or serious complication if it is not treated immediately.  The following is a guide to cases classified as emergencies:


Drowsiness or unconsciousness where the person cannot be roused

Difficulty in breathing or choking

Sudden or severe chest pain

Sudden or severe abdominal pain that will not go away

Dislocated or broken bones

Deep cuts or wounds with profuse bleeding

Head injuries that are followed by drowsiness, vomiting, bleeding (from the ears, nose or mouth) or unusual behaviour

Injuries to chest, abdomen, pelvis or spine (neck and backbone)

Fall from heights

Poisoning e.g. inhalation of toxic gases or drug overdose resulting in unconsciousness and respiratory distress

Crushed injuries

Severe allergy


Burns and scalds - deep with white or charred skin or covering a large area bigger than the size of a hand, or covering the face

Any burn caused by electric shock or by lightning



Misconceptions on the Use of Emergency Ambulance Service


995 is a free ambulance service?  Yes, the service is free only if it is a true emergency.  However, $274 will be charged for each non-emergency case that SCDF ferries to hospital.  The final outcome of the emergency or non-emergency status of a patient will be based on the assessment of the doctor at the Emergency Department of the receiving hospital.


You can direct the ambulance to the hospital of your choice?  No, the SCDF emergency ambulances will only convey patients to the nearest restructured hospital so that the patient can receive immediate medical attention.  This will also enable the ambulance to be available earlier for the next emergency call.


Patient arrived by SCDF ambulance will be given priority in treatment at the A & E Department?  No, ALL patients arriving at A & E Department will be assessed by the medical staff at the hospital.  Those assessed as critical will be attended to first, followed by non-emergency cases.




Calling an Emergency Ambulance Service Operator

Once you have identified that the patient's condition is life-threatening, dial 995 to reach the SCDF Emergency Ambulance Service.  Remind yourself to stay calm because your rational actions might just save the patient's life.


To facilitate a faster response to the patient, you should do the following:


Identify yourself and provide a telephone contact number.

Provide the specific location of the patient.

Try to keep details to a minimum; describe the patient's signs and symptoms briefly e.g. male, Chinese, age 67 years, having severe chest pain since 2 minutes ago, breathless sweating.

If you do not know what to say, it will be more helpful for you to listen to the Control Room Operator and answer his questions as best you can.

Do not hang up until the Control Room Operator does so.  He may need additional information or directions and may have some instructions for you to follow before the ambulance arrives.

Send somebody to wait for the ambulance crew e.g. by holding the lift if necessary, and directing the ambulance crew to the patient.

Standby to assist if required.

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Charges by Singapore Civil Defence Emergency Ambulance

There is no charge for any emergency case that the SCDF emergency ambulance conveys to hospitals. However, the SCDF charges $274 for each non-emergency case that it ferries to hospital.
Note:  The doctor at the Emergency Department of the receiving hospital will assess and determine the patient's condition if it is emergency or non-emergency.


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What is a Non-Emergency?

A non-emergency does not end in death or serious complication if it is not treated immediately.  These include one of the following:



Slight abdominal pain e.g. gastric

Slight fever, coughs and colds

Aches and pains which have been present for a long time

Minor bruises, slight cuts or broken skin

Slight burns or scalds

Mild vomiting, diarrhoea or constipation

Medical check-up or hospital follow-up


When a case is a non-emergency, the SCDF Emergency Ambulance Service should not be used.  Instead, medical advice can be sought from a family doctor, or a hospital, using your own transport or the public transport system.  Alternatively, dial 1777 for a non-SCDF ambulance.




Basic Charges of the 1777 Private Ambulance Operators

Click here to view the capabilities and basic charges of 1777 Private Ambulance Operators.


Besides the basic charges, prices may varies from case-to-case.  For instance, additional costs are imposed for the use of bandages, dressings, diapers, etc.


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This page is last updated on 08 March 2018

Source: Singapore Civil Defence Force