HK paramedics step up childbirth training
The city's 2,700 ambulance officers will be given extra training on delivering babies, as part of a plan to cope with the growing number of mainland women rushing to hospitals in Hong Kong at the last minute to give birth.
Some 1,453 mainland women gave birth in emergency wards in the first 11 months of last year, almost triple the number in the whole of 2010. The rise has been blamed on restrictions on the number of mainlanders allowed to book maternity beds in Hong Kong.
Still, the number of ambulance calls for pregnant women remained steady, at 100 to 200 a month, said Matthew Leung Shiu-hong, the Fire Services Department's assistant director.
'Some [pregnant mainland women] choose to stay near the hospitals. They do not need to take any vehicle in the event of an emergency delivery,' Leung said.
Despite that, the department will step up training of ambulance officers, who already take lessons on childbirth as part of their 26 weeks of basic training. It has bought 37 mannequins that simulate the birthing process, each at a cost of HK$22,000, and instructional DVDs.
A talk on the birthing process will also form part of the two-day course that all paramedics must take every three years.
Doctors and Hospital Authority bosses have warned mainland women of the dangers of waiting until they go into labour to seek medical help, saying the practice could lead to dangers for both mother and child.
Chan Shi-ki, chairman of the Fire Services Department Ambulancemen's Union, said he doubted whether the models would help paramedics who had to deal with complications during a birth. Officers should visit hospitals to observe real deliveries.
'Whether we can handle childbirth cases well will greatly affect the future of the newborn babies,' he said.