Hong Kong needs 'Good Samaritan' law and mandatory smoke detectors

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 November, 2011, 12:00am


As is the case with all of China, I am deeply saddened by the circumstances around the death of the toddler Wang Yue in Foshan.

With regard to Hong Kong the tragedy brings to mind that we still have failed to pass a 'Good Samaritan' law that would protect citizens who render care to those in need.

This is the main argument against the requirement of the placement of public access cardiac defibrillators in many public places.

I am fully aware the MTR Corporation announced last week the placement of defibrillators in 84 stations. However, it has only provided one per station and made them available only for its own staff to use to help those in need.

In the time it would take to find an MTR employee and get them and the defibrillator to a heart-attack victim one would have surpassed the six-minute 'golden window' to save a life.

For the last 10 years most underground stations in modern cities have been required to have three or four per station and open to public use.

I may add that anyone who has a heart attack in a tall building in Hong Kong is virtually guaranteed not to receive meaningful help within the 'six-minute window'.

We also have very stringent laws about the placement of emergency equipment for fires in public and private places. Yet even our fire protection laws have not evolved with the times. I challenge anyone to find a smoke detector placed in an apartment in Hong Kong when it is under construction.

In contrast, you would be hard put to find a flat in Europe or America which did not have them installed in compliance with stringent laws requiring landlords and builders to ensure they are fitted. We are speaking of the most effective life-saving device against fire that costs less than HK$100.

Hong Kong has the worst record in the developed world for survival from heart attacks; and I mean the very worst by a massive margin and we should be ashamed.

We have no 'Good Samaritan' law to encourage citizens to rush to the care of someone in need. And, to top it off, we require literally hundreds of millions of dollars to be spent on fire safety equipment for public and private venues, yet we have no requirement for the most effective device, a smoke detector, to be mandatory inside all newly-built apartments or rentals.

Tobias Brown, Central