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Singapore emergency responders to identify patients with biometrics by 2020


Paramedics and emergency service (EMS) responders in Singapore will be able to identify patients with fingerprints by 2020 to save time and reduce errors, according to a Singapore Civil Defense Force (SCDF) plan reported by GovInsider.

The biometric system will also provide access to national electronic healthcare records, and will also help hospitals prepare for patients before they arrive, according to an official.

“There is a clear case for the use of biometrics for emergency responders,” SCDF Chief Medical Officer Shalini Arulanandam told GovInsider. “Biometrics will allow EMS patients to be identified immediately so that the ambulance crew can obtain their relevant health information from the Ministry of Health’s National Electronic Health Record without delay.”

EMS responders treated 14,000 people, or 8 percent of their total patients, without identification in 2017.

Arulanandam says the SCDF intends to acquire and operationalize mobile identification systems, such as fingerprint scanners, in its fleet of ambulances over the next year. She notes the possibility of using other modalities to broaden the system’s identification capabilities, as well.

“Some patients, especially the elderly, may have calluses, cracked or scarred skin. This can compromise the fingerprint quality,” Arulanandam said. She added that the SCDF will “explore the use of other biometric identification techniques, such as iris scanning, to complement fingerprint identification.”

Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs is also considering other applications of biometrics for emergency services, Arulanandam says.

In addition to improving its communication and data-sharing efforts, the SCDF is also experimenting with drones equipped with defibrillators that heart attack victims can summon with an app, GovInsider reports.

Singapore is quickly establishing itself as a world leader in biometric adoption, as its government is planning to trial a National Digital Facial Biometric System in the second half of 2019, and the country could soon have more than 1,000 biometric vending machines.

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