Paramedics should prioritise logic over protocol

My mother, two children and helper were travelling in a taxi along Bukit Timah Road when their vehicle ran into the back of an auxiliary police van.

As there were four injured passengers, a second ambulance was called.

According to my mother, the paramedics had a prolonged disagreement as to whether to take them to KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH) or National University Hospital (NUH).

When my mother pressed them to make a decision, they even told my mother not to interfere.

They eventually said they would take my mother and children to KKH and my helper to Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) because KKH did not treat adults in emergency cases.

I was surprised that KKH did not have the facilities to treat adults, and that the paramedics intended to take my helper, who had been in Singapore for only two months, alone to TTSH.

Speaking to the paramedics on the phone, I suggested that they all be taken to NUH, which had an accident and emergency unit that could attend to both children and adults.

However, one of the paramedics insisted on following protocol - which meant getting my children checked for internal bleeding as soon as possible - and refused to entertain my suggestion.

It was only after much persuasion that they finally relented and decided to head to NUH.

I fully appreciate the need to follow protocol, had the injuries been severe and the victims' conditions critical, but, in this instance, all the victims were found to be in stable condition, and precautionary scans were merely advised.

What if both my mother and helper had suffered head trauma? Would the paramedics have taken my children - a three-year-old and a seven-month-old - to KKH by themselves, and my mother and helper to TTSH instead?

Gerald Tan Aik Ki

This article was first published on April 1, 2015.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.