Macau, HK, Guangdong finetuning deal on joint emergency response in GBA: Macau fire chief

2024-04-11 03:47     BY Yuki Lei    Comment:4

The Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau governments are in the process of finetuning a framework agreement on cooperation in emergency response operations in the Greater Bay Area (GBA), Fire Services Bureau (CB) spokesman Lao Hou Wai said yesterday, pointing out that five of the bureau’s ambulances and one fire engine have already obtained dual licence plates, mainly tasked with entering the mainland and Hong Kong to carry out cross-border rescue and ambulance services.

Hosting yesterday’s press conference about the first quarter’s fire statistics at the CB headquarters in Nam Van, Lao said that the three governments are now discussing in detail the “Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Emergency Management Cooperation and Greater Bay Area Emergency Response Operation Cooperation Framework Agreement”, in the hope that the emergency response forces of the 11 cities in the Greater Bay Area can be consolidated, setting up a more systematic emergency response mechanism to give full play to the ability of the 11 cities to jointly deal with accidents, while enhancing the effectiveness of cross-border response operations in practical terms.

The Fire Services Bureau, as one of the emergency response entities, will fully cooperate with the preparatory work, Lao underlined, adding that the specific operation mechanism and operational details will be announced in due course after the signing of the framework agreement.

Moreover, according to Hong Kong media reports, the Hong Kong Health Bureau has submitted a bill to the Legislative Council Panel on Health Services on the work progress of the “Pilot Scheme on Cross-border Direct Ambulance Services in the Greater Bay Area”, expecting to commence it in the middle of this year, initially for one year, with one hospital each in Shenzhen and Macau to be used as a pilot for the drill before the scheme is formally implemented.

The bill, the Hong Kong media reports noted, proposes to use the public Conde de São Januário Hospital Centre as a pilot for Macau’s direct ambulance service, highlighting that the two places will first implement the arrangement for Macau ambulances to enter Hong Kong, subject to operational experience and actual needs, and then explore the feasibility of the same kind of arrangement for ambulances from Hong Kong to enter Macau in the future.

By way of illustration, the Hong Kong media reports quoted the bill as stating that patients could be taken directly to Hong Kong hospitals through the mechanism to receive emergency and particularly complicated surgeries which could not be provided in hospitals elsewhere in the Greater Bay Area, underlining that cross-border direct ambulance services will not carry patients who are expected to be discharged shortly or who can receive appropriate treatment at local hospitals, nor those who need immediate treatment locally as to avoid delays in the transport process.

254 fires, 11,774 ambulance attendances recorded in Q1: CB

Meanwhile, the Fire Services Bureau (CB) announced during yesterday’s press conference that it recorded 254 fires in the first quarter of this year, an increase of 14 cases, or 5.83 percent, over the same period last year.

The press conference noted that the number of incidents in which there was no need to use the fire hose to extinguish a fire stood at 204, which accounted for 80.31 percent of the total number of incidents attended by the bureau in the first quarter of this year, indicating that residents have become more vigilant against fires.

The causes of fire continued to be mainly forgetting to turn off one’s stove, short circuit of electrical wires, burning of joss sticks/papers, someone leaving behind burning materials, and malfunctioning of machinery/equipment, with a total of 167 cases, accounting for 65.75 percent of the total fires recorded in the first three months this year.

The number of ambulance attendances in the first three months of this year stood at 11,774, a year-on-year growth of 1,358, or 13.04 percent, Lao said during the press conference, adding that the increase was mainly due to a rise in the number of cases involving minor discomforts such as fever, dizziness and headache. Overall, Lao pointed out, dizziness, abdominal pain, fever, heart palpitations and vomiting remained the major causes of using an ambulance, amounting to 6,505 cases, or 55.25 percent, of the total number of ambulance attendances.

In Macau, the use of a public ambulance is free of charge.

In the first quarter, firefighters conducted 2,698 fire safety inspections in residential buildings, involving 1,707 households, in which five were fined for ignoring repeated fire safety advice by the bureau or involving serious circumstances, Lao noted, adding that a total of 39 households have been fined since the legislation on fire safety in buildings and certain outdoor venues came into effect last year, mainly involving the placing of miscellaneous items, shoe racks and motorcycles in evacuation routes.

According to the press conference, in the first three months, firefighters also conducted a total of 4,803 inspections in industrial buildings, petrol stations, oil depots, restaurants and stores selling dangerous goods-related products, in which four were fined, mainly for involving safety hazards such as excessive storage of dangerous goods. 

Fire Services Bureau (CB) senior officer Lao Hou Wai addresses yesterday’s press conference about the bureau’s first quarter statistics at the CB headquarters in Nam Van.
– Photo: Maria Cheang Ut Meng

This undated handout photo provided by the Fire Services Bureau during yesterday’s press conference shows two of its five dual-plated ambulances and its so far only dual-plated fire engine.

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