Mainland ambulance in HK under scrutiny

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 September, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 September, 2009, 12:00am

An ambulance service that carries sick Hongkongers from the mainland is under government scrutiny after a complaint about its left-hand-drive emergency vehicle travelling through Mid-Levels with its siren blaring.

The Transport Department said the service had a permit to operate but it was investigating whether it was allowed to sound sirens.

Concern was raised by Civic Party leader Audrey Eu Yuet-mee after a person sent her a picture of the ambulance on Robinson Road and said it had been sounding its siren.

In a letter to Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen yesterday, she asked if there was any regulation of such ambulances in the city and what ordinances covered them.

She also asked if such an ambulance was allowed to sound its siren in Hong Kong and whether there were any regulations governing its equipment and staff qualifications.

The department said the service had been approved by mainland and Hong Kong authorities. 'It possesses an approval notice for the vehicle and driver from the Guangdong Public Security Bureau and a closed-road permit from the Transport Department,' a spokesman said. 'But we are still investigating whether it is allowed to sound the siren.'

Shenzhen Fu Jie Ambulance said it had operated the service for more than a decade. 'We take people who are sick or injured from any place in the mainland to Hong Kong,' said a spokesman for the company, which is based in Huanggang .

The average charge for a trip was HK$5,000 and the fee varied depending on the distance and the level of care the patients required, the spokesman said. 'Our service is legal and our vehicles were well-equipped with qualified medical workers on board,' he said.

Hong Kong Fire Services Department Ambulance's Union chairman Wat Ki-on said he had known of the company's service for a long time.

'I have learned that some medical workers who originally worked in Hong Kong changed their jobs to work for this company,' he said.