MEMORIES of the crush which killed 21 revellers in Lan Kwai Fong last New Year's Eve are still vivid - particularly in the minds of the emergency services and Government departments. In a flurry of activity, a liaison working group has been established, and its members have been burning the midnight oil to implement a list of safety measures designed to protect the community at large public gatherings. The improvements have been evident in the trendy nightclub area this festive season. On Christmas Eve D'Aguilar Street, the scene of the disaster, was lined with police officers ushering people along the pavements to prevent congestion. They used loud-hailers to help clear the roads. Ambulance officers were posted at strategic points, pedestrian exit signs were displayed on luminous blue signs and, where necessary, temporary guard railings were put up to control the flow of people. The police this New Year's Eve will be able to monitor crowd control and identify possible build-ups from three lookout posts, including a control centre on the fifth floor of California House. Crowd control experts from the Mass Transit Railway Corporation (MTRC) were drafted to conduct training sessions for all the services on standby during this Christmas break. The Fire Services Department (FSD) has drawn up a training programme on how to tackle human pile-ups, and this has to be completed by all new cadets. These initiatives are just a few of the recommendations put forward in a report on the tragedy, compiled by Justice Bokhary. The 10 main recommendations have all been implemented, and the police operation currently underway in Lan Kwai Fong is in line with Justice Bokhary's report. The operation, put to the test on Friday night, passed with flying colours and got the thumbs-up from Christmas party-goers. This Friday night, when more crowds are expected, guard railings will be set up along D'Aguilar Street and police will enforce a one-way walking system for pedestrians. Police have also threatened to close Lan Kwai Fong to traffic and pedestrians if crowds exceed 5,000. ''We just want to ensure public safety,'' Central Police District Commander Cheung Chi-shum said. ''It is important for people to enjoy themselves, but it is naturally far more important to protect the community.'' The operation has been fine-tuned with expert advice offered by representatives of the MTRC, Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation, St John Ambulance, Civil Aid Services, Auxiliary Medical Services, the FSD, the Hospital Authority and the Highways Department, and co-ordinated by the police and Security Branch. A total of 235 police officers, double last year's tally, will be on duty, including plain clothed officers looking out for under-age drinking, drug-taking, pickpockets, illegal parking and people committing ''public order offences''. Many of the 50-plus people injured in last year's crush suffered asphyxiation, so the police saw it as essential to improve its cardio-pulmonary resuscitation courses for junior police officers. In addition, more staff will be working in casualty and emergency units in nearby hospitals, while 30 auxiliary medical officers and St John Ambulance volunteers will establish first-aid posts in the Lan Kwai Fong area. Hospital Authority senior executive manager Dr William Ho said a number of improvements had been carried out as a result of the tragedy. ''At large public gatherings we have more staff on duty in the emergency unit, and there is always a pair of medical officers in the Central district who are available to help at any time of the day,'' he said. ''We also have a better paging system, which has improved the co-ordination and efficiency of our rescue procedures.'' A spokesman for St John Ambulance said everyone had learned a lesson from the tragedy. ''And unfortunately it often takes a disaster of this scale to make people review the rescue procedure and to install much-needed improvements. ''However, I can confidently say that this year everyone is better equipped to deal with potential problems. I just pray the public takes a little more responsibility when out and about on New Year's Eve,'' he said. The crush of 15,000 on the steep and slippery roads of the area prompted the Highways Department to carry out road improvements. Steps and barriers have also been installed in areas identified as potential black-spots by the working group. A year later, business is still booming for many of the bars and restaurants in Lan Kwai Fong, but making a profit on New Year's Eve will be the last thing on owners' minds, according to Lan Kwai Fong Association chairman Richard Fieldman. ''This does not even enter their minds. Owners would prefer not to have any business just to secure safety on the streets. This year we want to see a flow of people through Lan Kwai Fong, and it is essential for the police to prevent groups from gathering and loitering on the road or pavement. ''To achieve this, numbers entering Lan Kwai Fong must be restricted. I understand the Government has been down here on a weekly basis filling holes in the road and installing guard railings,'' Mr Fieldman said. ''Lessons must have been learned from last year, because on Halloween we had a higher number of people in Lan Kwai Fong and there was not a hint of trouble. ''We have successfully managed to tackle the problem of under-age drinkers as well. More visible uniformed officers assigned to Lan Kwai Fong have driven that problem away, and there are more door staff checking for IDs than before,'' Mr Fieldman said. Although the mental and physical scars of the tragedy will not fade, Lan Kwai Fong businesses and revellers have vowed to continue with the weekend festivities. Many who were caught up in the terrifying stampede said they would return to the streets that claimed the lives of friends, schoolmates or colleagues. ''I am sure those who lost their lives would still like to see people enjoying themselves on New Year's Eve, and it would be inappropriate to close Lan Kwai Fong,'' investment broker Richard Bradley said. ''Those who died will never be forgotten. ''I was here last year and there was panic and confusion. This year everything seems to be much more organised, there are police everywhere directing people, and ambulance officers on the corner of the streets.'' His view was echoed by architect Veronica Bowen. ''You simply cannot cancel New Year's Eve. At this time of year Lan Kwai Fong is to Hong Kong what Trafalgar Square is to London. ''It gives me a good sense of security knowing the emergency services appear to be very well co-ordinated this time.'' Bernard Rossiere, a designer, said he would be spending his first New Year's Eve in Hong Kong in Lan Kwai Fong: ''I heard about what happened here last year when I was in France, it must have been terrible. ''But I will be here to see the New Year in, I like this place and it has a buzz to it. I do not think there will be another problem - the authorities should have been able to identify the problems and eradicate them.'' However, one person who will not be returning to the area to celebrate the New Year is Dean Lancaster. The 31-year-old, who suffered head injuries in the stampede, recalled: ''When I was there last year, it turned out to be a not-very-nice evening. It doesn't feel right for me to be there this year.'' Since the tragedy he has returned to Lan Kwai Fong on several occasions. ''I have not been discouraged by what happened because life must move on,'' he said. ''What happened was most unfortunate. Many people died and I am very lucky to be alive.'' Mr Lancaster, a general foreman, said the police had learned a lot from the tragedy. He praised the way the police patrolled both sides of the harbour for the Lunar New Year fireworks display this year, describing the crowd control measures as ''excellent''.