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Harassment cases faced by SCDF emergency responders hit 6-year high in 2021

SINGAPORE — Emergency responders from the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) encountered 29 cases of harassment last year, a six-year high.

From 2016 to 2021, there were a total of 140 cases reported of Singapore Civil Defence Force emergency responders who faced harassment while at work.
From 2016 to 2021, there were a total of 140 cases reported of Singapore Civil Defence Force emergency responders who faced harassment while at work.

SINGAPORE — Emergency responders from the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) encountered 29 cases of harassment last year, a six-year high.

The harassment cases, which occurred during the course of their duties, included verbal or physical harassment, or both, SCDF said in a press release on Friday (Feb 4).

From 2016 to last year, there were a total of 140 harassment cases reported, with an average of about 23 cases a year.

The number of harassment cases reported has grown steadily from 20 in 2016 to 23 in 2017 and 26 in 2018.

There was a slight dip in cases in the next two years, with 25 cases reported in 2019 and 17 in 2020. 

Last year saw the biggest jump in cases, with 12 more being reported.

In its press release, SCDF provided recent examples of harassment faced by its officers, who respond to medical emergencies and fires, while on duty.

On Oct 2 last year, a patient suddenly became hostile and used vulgarities on the ambulance crew. The patient also punched a crew member’s face. The patient was eventually jailed for four months, two weeks and three days.

Another patient was jailed for eight months after punching a female ambulance crew member in the chest and trying to spit on her on Sept 3, 2020.

In another instance on July 21, 2020, a patient became aggressive when the ambulance crew was about to conduct further medical assessment on him.

He challenged a crew member to a fight and unzipped his own pants to reveal his genitals. He also urinated on a crew member’s boot.

For his actions, the patient was jailed for a year and three weeks.

Assistant Commissioner Yong Meng Wah, who is the director of SCDF’s Emergency Medical Services, said that most members of the public appreciate the work of emergency responders, but there remains a minority who will verbally or physically harass them.

These “unacceptable behaviours” can hinder patients’ pre-hospital care management and affect their medical intervention, he said.

“While the SCDF Emergency Medical Services remain steadfast and committed to provide the best possible care for our patients, any form of harassment of our emergency responders will not be tolerated and we will not hesitate to report it to the police.

Our emergency responders deserve to be working in a safe environment where they can carry out their duties to the best they could in protecting and saving lives and property,” he added.

Related topics

SCDF harassment abuse verbal abuse

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