Lan Kwai Fong: important lessons to be learnt

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 March, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 March, 1993, 12:00am

MR Justice Bokhary's Final Report on the Lan Kwai Fong disaster is a good report.

I hope the Government will recognise its relevance to future accidents or disasters. All concerned authorities should contribute to make the recommendations in the final report work. Departments like the police, the fire services and Urban Services, as well as the Hospital Authority, should come up with reports on their respective areas as soon as possible.

As a doctor and legislator I would like to comment on two areas of this report.

Emergency and life-saving after a disaster. I am keen to see better co-ordination amongst all emergency agencies in rescue operations - police, fire services, hospitals, the Auxiliary Medical Service, the civil aid services, the St John's Ambulance Brigade and the Civil Aviation Department. Mr Bokhary is right. A joint working party involving all emergency agencies should be set up to consider how services could be improved.

Disaster teams should be set up in different regions of Hongkong, based in Accident and Emergency Departments of the major acute hospitals in Hongkong Island, Kowloon, New Territories East and New Territories West. Trained rescuers should arrive at the scene at the quickest possible time from within the region and set up a command unit. In the case of the Lan Kwai Fong disaster, a mobile command unit, which was called around 1 am (over an hour after the disaster occurred), only arrived at 1.35 am.

Regional rescue teams will minimise unnecessary delay.

In the Lan Kwai Fong case, the mobile emergency team came from a casualty treatment centre in Sha Tin. More centres like this should be set up on both sides of the harbour.

I do not dispute Mr Bokhary's recommendations to upgrade first-aid training to police. However, it may be impractical to conduct such training for all policemen, and other auxiliary staff. Rather, I would recommend such training courses to be organised for a target group of people. The first target group should be those who are recruited to the proposed regional rescue teams. First-aid courses should also be organised in secondary schools.

At Lan Kwai Fong there was no first-aid station. The Government should ensure this does not happen again.

The monitoring and regulatory role by Legco. As a legislator, I am happy to see Mr Bokhary accepting the three main proposals by the Health Panel of the Legislative Council under my chairmanship: 1) A review of the measure of co-ordination which exists between the various emergency response agencies.

2) Careful consideration of the implications of any policy which reduced operational quarters for hospital staff. More call rooms may be an answer.

3) The Hospital Authority (HA) to consider guidelines to prevent disaster victims from excessive visits by concerned groups which may breach privacy and upset the routine operation of medical staff in hospitals.

In future Health Panel meetings, I will see if follow-up action has been taken and ask the Administration if the relevant suggestions made by Mr Bokhary have been implemented.

Mr Bokhary has recommended a series of measures to be adopted in police crowd control, road surface improvement and the need to control alcohol and drug abuse in a crowded environment, especially in minors. The relevant laws should be passed.

Alcohol and drug abuse is a multi-faceted problem requiring joint efforts by authorities such as Education, Social Welfare, Urban Services and the police. More stringent legislative measures are needed to forbid minors from buying alcohol and drugs. Current legislation forbids bars and licensed restaurants to sell alcohol to teenagers, but they still can buy alcohol easily and conveniently.

Life is precious, let us not waste it through sheer neglect and stupidity.

Dr LEONG CHE-HUNG Legislative Councillor (Medical Functional Constituency)