Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) medics will be deployed in several Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) ambulances in a three-month pilot project from September to address the growing medical needs of Singaporeans.

In light of Singapore's ageing population, calls for ambulances and emergency are expected to increase 6% annually according to the Home Affairs Ministry — and the project aims to address the problem, remarked Minister for Defence, Ng Eng Hen on 23 May.

"The SAF's primary mission is to defend the nation against external threats. But, in the area of emergency care — using SAF medics to respond to civilian emergencies is synergistic and mutually helpful," highlighted Dr Ng at the opening of the Asia Pacific Military Health exchange.

Reduction in manpower forces SAF to take measures

The SAF will have its manpower reduced by one-third from 2030 onwards, therefore it must respond decisively to the reduction in manpower supply by helping out civilians.

"Because of our manpower constraints, each soldier is valuable, whose contributions need to be optimised and put to full use for the nation's defence," said Dr Ng, who also acknowledged military medical practitioners for their contributions in humanitarian aid in disasters, pandemic and terrorism control, and care and rehabilitation for casualties, among others.

"It will meet the growing demand as well as allowing our medics to keep their skills current, to better respond in times of military crises," he added.

The event witnessed 500 delegates comprising senior military officers, active service and reserve medics, nurses, allied health professionals and defence researchers from Asia Pacific countries to discuss the latest in military health and medicine.

The pilot partnership will involve 12 SAF medics, of which 10 are full-time national servicemen and two are regular servicemen. All will work closely with SCDF personnel to respond to civilian medical emergencies.

Investments in military medicine affects civilians, too

Vocation requirements for the SAF Medical Corps are also being reviewed to be more flexible to allow more soldiers to be deployed to the vocation. Many of the platforms can also be operated more simply with the help of automation, added Dr Ng.

The review is expected “to be completed soon and implemented progressively over the next few years”, he asserted.

The army has also set up a new Centre of Excellence for Soldier Performance to redesign fitness training to enhance the potential of every soldier.

"It allows our medical professionals to work with the training community and sports scientists to increase the potential and enhance performance of every soldier," he explained.

Dr Ng also further stated that investments in military medicine will pay off in better treatment not just for soldiers, but civilians as well.

"History has shown that when care for soldiers is improved, better care for civilians will ensue, and vice versa. The two fields are mutually reinforcing," he said. MIMS

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