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Medics delayed by 'no casualty' claim by police

2019-09-12 HKT 16:08
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  • Medics delayed by 'no casualty' claim by police
The Fire Services Department say police repeatedly told them that there were no casualties inside Prince Edward MTR Station on August 31 – even though there were several injured people inside – and this helped contribute to a one-hour delay for some ambulance personnel to attend to those hurt.

The events of that night have been under scrutiny due to persistent rumours that up to three people were beaten to death at the station when police arrested dozens of anti-government protesters.

A batch of ambulance personnel were at the station by around 11.30pm, and one of their number was already down on a platform, where he tended to several injured people, including three who had severe injuries. He was assisted by a group of firefighters who were only trained to provide basic first aid.

Deputy chief ambulance officer Tsang Man-ha on Thursday gave the media a detailed rundown of how events unfolded that night.

She said at 11.46pm, the lone medic on the platform called his colleagues who had been waiting right outside the station to come down and help. But they were unable to enter because the station was already on lockdown, and the entrance they were at was locked.

They decided to walk to another exit where there was an elevator, but by the time they got there it was 12.15am.

There, they were delayed for another 15 minutes, as a police officer there told them there were no casualties inside, and he had to get permission from his commander before he could let them in.

By the time everything was sorted out and police allowed the ambulance officers in to help those injured, it was already 12.30am – a full hour after they arrived at the station.

Deputy chief fire officer Derek Chan said there were communication problems with police officers, who had insisted that they needed to get permission from their commander before letting the rescue workers in.

"Regarding the delay, from a rescue perspective, it was not desirable. So I think later on, we will liaise with the police so as to work out a way to improve the coordination and collaboration in such large-scale incidents," Chan said.

At the police's daily briefing, held a short while later, chief superintendent John Tse said an officer manning a cordon at the concourse level of the station did tell ambulance personnel that they weren't needed, but said this was down to a communication error.

"You may understand that some of our officers may not have known the overall situation in the station. And that is why, after communication with other officers on the platform, they did arrange for the ambulancemen to offer assistance," Tse said.

The emergency services, government, Hospital Authority and MTR Corporation have all flatly rejected the rumours that people were killed at Prince Edward during the police operation.

But the fact that the media had been kept out of the station when the arrests took place, and that the casualty numbers initially reported were later revised down, have added to speculation that the authorities have something to hide.

Officials say seven of those arrested were eventually taken to hospital, after a delay of more than two hours. They were first taken by train to Lai Chi Kok MTR Station to be transferred into ambulances.

Last updated: 2019-09-12 HKT 21:59