TL;DR – Because the nearest hospital may not always be the best option.
The Lucky Plaza accident that saw two deaths and four injuries yesterday rocked our little island. There were (too) many videos and photos of the accident since it happened right smack in the middle of Orchard Road on a Sunday. Out of respect for the victims, I will not be posting any of these and I also reckon by now, you would have seen and watched them all.
All six victims have been identified as Filipino domestic helpers. They were a group of seven friends having a picnic outside Lucky Plaza when the accident happened. One of the deceased and one of the injured victims were sisters.
The 64-year-old private hire vehicle driver drove a black Honda Vezel into them before crashing through a metal railing surrounding the mall. The car then plunged into the exit lane of the Lucky Plaza carpark, taking four women with it and pinning one of them under it. Passers-by helped to lift the car and helped the woman out.
The driver was reportedly not on any job when the accident happened, and he has been arrested for dangerous driving.
The two deceased, aged 41 and 50, were transported to Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH), but they subsequently died from severe injuries.
The other four injured women, aged 37 to 56, were conveyed conscious to TTSH as well. Out of the four, two were warded in the intensive care unit, while the other two were reportedly in stable condition.
NTUC’s Centre for Domestic Employees have gotten into contact with the families of the victims as well as their employers and are helping to facilitate help and support.
Our Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan and Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Manpower, Low Yen Ling, have also visited the victims at the hospital to personally convey their sympathies.
But, one curious question surfaced:
Why were the victims taken to TTSH, and not Mount Elizabeth Hospital which is right next door?
Which is a legit question, you know, since it is true that Mount Elizabeth Hospital is a lot nearer than TTSH.
According to the Straits Times article,
“The move triggered questions among readers, with several posting comments on ST’s Facebook page asking why the casualties were not taken to the Mount Elizabeth Hospital, located across from the accident scene.
ST understands that in cases involving severe and multiple trauma patients, SCDF emergency ambulances will convey them to the nearest accident and emergency department where they are equipped to deal with such cases with the necessary resources, equipment and medical support by emergency-medicine specialists.”
Netizen Ong Chee Wee who is trained in nursing and experienced in paramedic and ambulance operations work further clarified,
Firstly, TTSH is a government hospital and also one of the major trauma centres in Singapore. They are equipped to deal with the influx and severity of cases 24/7. For the 2 of them, as it was time critical, the crew would have radioed in to the emergency room to activate the trauma services of TTSH to be on stand by for the ambulance arrival.
Secondly, Mount Elizabeth hospital is a private hospital, no doubt the fact they have their emergency department, but doesn’t mean they have the right people when these happen, some of the emergency department have merely a GP to see the patient, and when need arise, to call a specialist doctor who are at home or else where, so it can take up to an hour if needed.
And no, SCDF ambulances are obliged to send to the nearest government emergency department, and just fyi, they do have a network of radio from SCDF so when the paramedic pages in, the hospital could arrange and prep themselves while the ambulance is on the way.
And if you are touching about similar issue, Raffles Hospital is also one when the Ferrari crash happened years back. Although now they take in patients from SCDF, they only take in minor cases (so as to free the Govt Hospital), and only during office hours.
He further elaborated on his own Facebook profile,
TTSH is a govt hospital, and as such the emergency department is well staffed and they have various specialist rostered on 24/7. Its just minutes just to activate the specialist teams and they are ready when the amb arrives.
Meanwhile private hospitals, they are staffed with either emergency doc or general meds doc at times. For the incident, they many need neuro, trauma, ortho specialists, they have to call them one by one as they are not in the hospital. So a waiting time literally.
One can scramble in minutes, one, in hours.
And SCDF do page to govt hospitals if they carrying critical cases as these patient will be fast tracked.
Mount E has also spoken
Yeps, Mount Elizabeth Hospital also released an official statement this evening.
While it does have a 24-hour A&E department which is open to all patients, and the hospital assured that its A&E team would have responded immediately had they been activated or informed of the incident at Lucky Plaza yesterday. However, it also acknowledged that “the hospital is capable of treating emergencies, it is not set up like the restructured hospitals for severe traumatic conditions, which include multiple trauma and extensive burns.”
It should be obvious by now that the nearest hospital may not necessarily be the best option. Private hospitals operate very differently from public or restructured ones and we cannot expect the private hospitals’ A&E departments to be as fully-staffed and fully-equipped to deal with all sorts of emergencies and trauma conditions as the Trauma Unit at TTSH.
I’ll leave you with an old but gold video that CNA Insider did about a year ago on what happens inside TTSH’s Trauma Unit,
(Featured image via)
Straits Times reported that the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) have said in a joint statement that Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) was the nearest hospital that is equipped to handle such an emergency.
Editor’ Update (2020.01.01 @ 11:30AM)
MOH shared more details about which hospitals are equipped to handle what sort of cases here.
”The MOH spokesman told The Straits Times that all public hospitals – except for Alexandra Hospital – have emergency departments that “can resuscitate and provide initial treatment of acute emergencies in both adults and children”.
Raffles Hospital, however, is the only private hospital that meets the ministry’s “minimum standards for trauma care”.“