Ambulance staff, firemen to boost links

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 January, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 January, 1999, 12:00am

THERE will be further integration of ambulance staff and firefighters to avoid conflicts during operations, Fire Services chief John Tsang Kwong-yu said yesterday.

The Fire Services Director said the two services in districts across Hong Kong were being moved into the same fire stations to improve co-ordination.

Lack of communication between the two services came to light after the death of a 71-year-old man in a Wong Chuk Hang Estate fire last month.

The man was moved from one ambulance to another and then finally to a third before he was taken to hospital.

'There have been some communication problems. But as the two services are being housed together in more and more stations, the situation should improve,' Mr Tsang said in a radio interview.

But he denied there was any problem with the existing system.

'It's not the system's fault. Even firemen have disputes among themselves.' The department had introduced new measures after the incident, including the the installation of walkie-talkies and painting large identification plates on all ambulances.

The Hong Kong Fire Services Department Ambulancemen's Union chairman, Cheung Kim-fan, said the move would help department planners to better take into account ambulance staff's operational needs.

'Planners have often neglected ambulance operations in their decisions. The revamp may be able to correct this neglect,' he said.

Mr Tsang said the department hoped to see introduced this year laws which would force karaoke clubs that did not serve food and alcohol to follow the same tough fire safety requirements as other bars.

He said that there were more than 100 such premises operating.

Karaoke Requirements Concern Group secretary Lillian Chan Yun-lin said there was confusion over the definition of such clubs in the proposed bill.

'Personally, I can't think of any real karaoke business that does not serve food and drinks,' she said.

'The definition of singing karaoke is so broad that even a church or a private function could fall under it.'