67 breakdowns in just one month
Hong Kong's ambulances are less able to respond quickly in emergencies because of the increase in breakdowns and maintenance stops, the Director of Audit says.
Between July 20 and August 19 this year, there were 67 breakdowns among a total of 252 ambulances, according to the latest audit report on emergency ambulance services.
The age of the vehicle fleet might lead to even more breakdowns in future, the report said. But since the Fire Services Department (FSD) had failed to keep maintenance records on ambulances that broke down before the recent reporting period, it was difficult to prove the vehicles should be replaced quickly.
The proportion of ambulance downtime caused by unscheduled maintenance - after traffic accidents and sudden breakdowns, for example - increased to 10.9 per cent last year from 6.4 per cent in 2003.
'An increase in the downtime caused by the sudden breakdowns reduces the availability of ambulances, jeopardises rescue operations and undermines the reliability of the ambulance fleet,' the report said. It recommended the FSD monitor the situation closely and assess its impact on the ambulance service.