All-agency group backed
A PROPOSED working party to liaise between emergency services should be so well drilled that it can react instinctively to disasters, a legislator said last night.
Dr Leong Che-hung, medical representative in the Legislative Council, was commenting on one of the recommendations in Mr Justice Bokhary's report.
The recommendation said a working party composed of experienced representatives from all the agencies which respond to emergencies should be set up.
The group should be asked to consider in particular whether a permanent body should be formed for liaison between all agencies to improve understanding and possibly even to assume an operational role in disasters.
Dr Leong said the judge had taken on board his recommendation that the working party should consist of two tiers - one to co-ordinate and compare notes and the other to be trained to react to a given disaster like a well-oiled machine.
For the working party to succeed, it had to be divided on a regional basis, with each district having its own disaster team which met every month, the legislator said.
The services should include hospitals, fire, police, the Auxiliary Medical Services, Civil Aid Services, the St John Ambulance Brigade and the Royal Hongkong Auxiliary Air Force.
Mr Justice Bokhary suggested that the MTR, KCR and Civil Aviation Department should be invited to meetings.
The chief staff officer of the Auxiliary Medical Services, Mr Anthony Lok Cham-choi, said: ''We have contingency plans of our own for certain emergencies, but would welcome the opportunity to sit together on a regular basis with other services and updatethe information we have and alter plans accordingly.'' Chief fire officer Mr Tsang Kwong-yu said his department would have to look carefully at the recommendation because it would involve many departments, but would do its best to comply.
The Hospital Authority reacted with caution. A short official reaction read in part: ''We welcome the report and will carefully study it to ensure everything possible will be done to comply with the recommendations.'' All parties contacted agreed with Mr Justice Bokhary that emergency services like the Auxiliary Medical Services, Civil Aid Services and St John Ambulance Brigade should be automatically invited to be on standby at all occasions where large gatherings were expected.
In the absence of organisers, the police should undertake the job of ensuring their presence.
Police did not respond to specific recommendations.