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Fire Services Bureau Commissioner condemns abuse of ambulance service

Ambulances called out nearly 50,000 times in 2022; firefighters tackle more than 800 blazes; households fined for safety breaches.

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Ambulances called out nearly 50,000 times in 2022; firefighters tackle more than 800 blazes; households fined for safety breaches.

ARTICLE BY

PUBLISHED

READING TIME

Less than 1 minute Minutes

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 12:29 am

Macao’s emergency services have been reviewing one of their most challenging years in history, when the city was beset by the Covid-19 pandemic and their resources were stretched to the limit.

The Fire Services Bureau (CB) recorded 48,781 ambulance attendances in 2022, an increase of 9,668 cases, or 24.72 per cent, year-on-year, mainly due to the summer Covid-19 outbreak last year and Macao’s Covid-19 transition period.

CB Commissioner Leong Iok Sam said that during the month-long transition period, thousands of residents were infected with Covid-19, resulting in a steep increase in the number of ambulance calls, with an average of 400 ambulances being despatched a day, posing a serious challenge to emergency rescues.

However, during the transition period over half of the calls were found to be an abuse of the free-of-charge ambulance service, Leong pointed out.

In response to the abuse, Leong said, the bureau made a public appeal and adjusted the rules for its control centre on which calls should be classified as real emergencies. Since the adjustment, Leong pointed out, the abuse of the ambulance service has improved “significantly”.

Leong also said that from 1 January 2020 to 31 December last year, the bureau handled a total of 18,916 suspected or confirmed Covid-19 cases, involving 30,528 people, with 13,820 suspected cases involving 23,912 people who were transported to a location designated by the Health Bureau.

Macao recorded 816 fires last year, down by 4.23 per cent, or 36 cases, year-on-year, among which 522 fires were mainly due to unattended stoves, short circuits of electric appliances, machine malfunctions and embers from burning joss sticks and incense papers, accounting for 63.97 per cent of the total fires, according to Leong.

Statistics show that the bureau’s firefighting, rescue, emergency and ambulance services plus other special operations totalled 57,424 last year, an increase of 11,694, or 25.57 per cent, compared with 45,130 in 2021, Leong said.

He added that 1,936 rescues were carried out by the bureau last year, an increase of 200 cases, or 11.52 per cent, compared with the 1,736 cases in 2021. Most of the rescue work involved helping to open locked doors, accounting for 402 cases, and assisting the injured, accounting for 358 cases. In addition, the total number of special service visits last year reached 5,891, which was also higher than the same period in the previous year, mainly due to the deployment of additional personnel and fire vehicles to patrol Macao.

Leong noted that the legislation on fire safety in buildings and certain outdoor venues came into effect on 17 August last year, after which the bureau carried out a number of initiatives to raise public awareness of the new law, adding that since 13 August last year, it has been sending firefighters to carry out fire safety inspections of residential buildings. By December 2022, it had inspected nearly 10,000 flats, he said.

Leong added that last October, the bureau launched a system of fines for illegal acts. So far, fines have been levied on households that have repeatedly blocked emergency exits, involving the misplacing of trolleys, chairs, shoe racks and other sundry items. Two of the households have voluntarily paid their fines.

Commenting on the recent number of electrical fires, Leong said that in the case of the market stall fire in Avenida do General Castelo Branco, the bureau had explained the importance of fire safety to all the vendors involved.

Regarding e-vehicle fires, Leong said that the bureau was working on an e-vehicle rescue plan so that firefighters could understand the structure of e-vehicles and the required rescue methods, The Macau Post Daily reported. 

 

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 12:29 am

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