FSD insists no one died in Prince Edward MTR station incident

September 13, 2019 15:39
Deputy Chief Fire Officer Derek Armstrong Chan (right) said it was impossible for the 38 firefighters at the train station to leave the scene without taking care of all the casualties. Photo: HK China News Agency

The Fire Services Department (FSD) said no one died as a result of police action against protesters at the Prince Edward MTR Station on the night of Aug. 31, supporting earlier statements made by other agencies regarding the incident.

The department said the seven injured people handled by FSD personnel at the scene remained conscious when they were sent to hospital.

On Tuesday, the police force, MTR Corp. and the Hospital Authority issued separate statements insisting that there were only injuries and no deaths resulting from the incident at the train station, dismissing rumors on social media that up to three people may have been beaten to death by police officers.

Lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching, convenor of the pro-democracy camp in the Legislative Council, said on Wednesday that she had obtained full transcripts of communications between paramedics at the scene and the FSD control center that night, which raised suspicions that authorities might be hiding the actual number of casualties.

Mo said the transcripts showed that on-site FSD staff originally reported that nine people were injured, before changing the figure to ten, then revising it back to nine and eventually concluding that seven people had been hurt.

In a press conference on Thursday, the FSD reiterated that its staff only sent seven people, who were all conscious at the time, to several hospitals and did not see any fatalities at the scene, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.

The department also revealed that its staff, before entering the station to offer assistance, were told by the police at least twice that there were no casualties inside.

“Regarding calculation of the number of patients, I think I have repeated previously that it is quite common that the number of patients has to be changed from time to time based on the change of different conditions of the patients or due to the difficulty [at] the scene while our officers are handling a case,” FSD Deputy Chief Ambulance Officer Tsang Man-ha told reporters.

As the injured people might have been moved and escorted by the police, the possibility of double-counting could not be ruled out, Tsang said, adding that paramedics confirmed seven people were injured as of 1:02 a.m. the following day.

In the same press conference, Deputy Chief Fire Officer Derek Armstrong Chan said the data Mo had revealed was consistent with the FSD's operation records.

Chan also stressed that it was impossible for the 38 firefighters at the MTR station that night to leave without taking care of all the casualties.

He admitted, however, that transporting the injured to Lai Chi Kok MTR Station before taking them to hospital was not a desirable procedure.

Chief Superintendent John Tse Chun-chung of the Police Public Relations Branch told a daily press briefing that a police officer manning a cordon at the station did tell ambulance personnel that no one was injured in the area he was responsible for, although he later tried to know if there were injured people in other areas.

Tse also stressed that the officer allowed the ambulance personnel to enter the station, showing that police had no intention of obstructing rescue work.

"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 ambulance men to offer assistance," RTHK quoted Tse as saying.

In a press release issued Thursday night, the Hospital Authority clarified that it was not the source of a photo circulating on social media regarding the Aug. 31 incident.

“The concerned photo is not captured from HA system. Public hospitals' Accident and Emergency Departments had received 46 casualties in relation to mass gatherings in various districts from August 31 to September 2. All patients had been treated and discharged, while no patient deceased,” a spokesperson for the authority said.

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