Published: 20:06, February 1, 2024 | Updated: 10:29, February 2, 2024
HK to ink emergency response deal with Guangdong, Macao
By Atlas Shao in Hong Kong

Director of Fire Services Andy Yeung Yan-kin (center), Deputy Director of Fire Services (Operations) Angus Wong (right), and Deputy Director of Fire Services (Public Safety and Corporate Strategy) Derek Armstrong Chan (left) pose for a group photo during the Fire Services Department Year-end Review at the Fire and Ambulance Services Academy on Feb 1, 2024. (PHOTO / HKSAR GOVERNMENT)

The government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region said it expects to sign a deal with its Guangdong and Macao counterparts to establish a systematic emergency response operation mechanism within the Greater Bay Area this year, enabling cross-boundary rescue efforts and the smooth flow of rescuers and supplies during emergencies. 

Revealing the information at the year-end review news conference, the city’s fire services chief Andy Yeung Yan-kin said the proposed mechanism, established under the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Emergency Management Co-operation and Greater Bay Area Emergency Response Operation Cooperation Framework Agreement, will be activated under extreme weather or post-disaster management, and jointly promote the development of emergency management of the GBA.

Over 200 cadets undergoing training at the Fire and Ambulance Services Academy attended national studies course in Guangzhou to enhance their understanding of the mainland’s advanced equipment and new technologies

Yeung, director of Fire Services, reviewed the Fire Services Department’s work in 2023 and said that the Hong Kong government had met with representatives of the emergency response units of the nine Chinese mainland GBA cities and the Macao SAR, and the three sides already had a draft agreement.

READ MORE: Guangdong ups emergency response for heavy flood

Yeung said three main areas of work exist in setting up the framework, including the Greater Bay Area fire and rescue platform, which has already been set up; clarifying what resources can be mobilized in case of emergency; and ironing out a plan to activate the mechanism when necessary.

The framework was drafted by the HKSAR government, and will build a government-led, professional emergency response team, and action-based emergency response cooperation mechanism to deepen joint rescue efforts by the Greater Bay Area.

When asked whether the department will incorporate the legislation of Article 23 of the Basic Law in its training, Yeung said that the department fully supports the legislative process and elements related to the Constitution, the National Security Law for Hong Kong and the Basic Law will be incorporated into the training for different ranks and at different times. 

The department set up a steering committee on the national situation and national security education in 2023 to strengthen education in these aspects, with a view to fostering a stronger sense of national identity and an understanding of the responsibility to respect the laws of the country and safeguard national security.

Over 200 cadets undergoing training at the Fire and Ambulance Services Academy attended national studies course in Guangzhou to enhance their understanding of the mainland’s advanced equipment and new technologies, Yeung said.

The academy also set up a national security education resource center, which focuses on the Constitution, the Basic Law and the NSL, and is expected to attract about 20,000 Hong Kong residents in the first half of 2024.

READ MORE: 30,000 to be recruited for national emergency response

In 2023, the FSD recorded more than 36,000 fire reports, an increase of 3.8 percent over 2022; 93.8 percent of them were handled within the stipulated time frame, which is 1.3 percent higher than the performance pledge.

Additionally, over 40,700 special services were provided in 2023, a year-on-year increase of 15.4 percent, with about 800 calls during extreme rainstorms, which is 2.5 times higher than normal.

More than 816,000 calls were made to the ambulance service in 2023, of which more than 775,000 were emergency ambulance calls. Both of which increased by 10.3 percent year-on-year.

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