Hong Kong health care and hospitals

Seeing yellow: three new HK$1m ambulances hit Hong Kong streets

New rides also come with some interior upgrades as officials hope the new bright colour will alert drivers to clear the way even sooner

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 March, 2018, 5:32pm
UPDATED : Monday, 19 March, 2018, 11:24pm

Three upgraded yellow ambulances hit the road in Hong Kong on Monday for an eight-month trial to see if the vibrant new colour should become the standard for the city’s more than 380-vehicle fleet.

The director of Fire Services Department, Daryl Li Kin-yat, told the Post last month that the bright colours would provide better visibility compared with the white ones now in use, especially on congested roads, so that drivers could be alerted to give way even sooner.

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The yellow colour corresponds to European standards. The Mercedes Benz vehicles will also bear the logo of the blue Star of Life on four sides and red and blue markings.

“The human eye is more sensitive to yellow and green. But yellow is more eye-catching than green in daily environments,” Cheung Kapo, the fleet’s superintendent, said showing off the vehicles on Monday.

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“The new ambulance bears the logo of the Fire Services Department and also the word ‘ambulance’ on four sides. Coupled with the flashing blue lights and sirens, I believe it would not confuse members of the public.” Her remarks came as critics said the new vehicle resembles a body removal van, which is a similar shade of yellow.

The new ambulances are similar in size to the white ones but come with a few upgrades. The stretcher is placed in the centre, instead of on the right side, so paramedics can better access patients.

Paramedics can also access equipment from outside the new vehicles, allowing them to save precious seconds when treating the injured.

Bought in late 2016 and costing around HK$1 million (US$127,400) each – similar in cost to the white ones – the three were first put into service in Tai Po and Ngau Tau Kok Ambulance Depot. The vehicles will rotate among 40 depots for as many as six days so that frontline paramedics can test their efficiency and capability.

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Ambulances are usually replaced after seven years. Li said yellow ambulances had been widely adopted in Europe and elsewhere and that the department would study if it was necessary to follow suit in the long run.

According to the fire services, ambulance calls last year rose by 1.7 per cent to 786,310 compared with 2016, with 93 per cent being emergency calls.