Crucial training that saves lives

February 5, 2023

Uniquely trained personnel are saving the lives of victims trapped at high angles or in confined spaces thanks to the Civil Aid Service’s High-Angle Rescue Training Centre.


The rescue personnel in red uniforms, often observed at scenes of emergencies, belong to the Mountain Search & Rescue Company of the Civil Aid Service. While they are not full-time emergency forces, they are wholeheartedly committed to the distinctive services they deliver.


Indoor training centre


In order to provide the quality training that is required, the Civil Aid Service, together with the Architectural Services Department, turned a workshop that sat idle into the High-Angle Rescue Training Centre that celebrated its opening ceremony last year in May.


Located inside the Civil Aid Service Headquarters in Yau Ma Tei, the centre spares members of the service from bad weather conditions during training. It features various key furnishings for a better learning and training experience.


Fully equipped


Designed with maximum possible ceiling height, the training centre comes equipped with various anchor points to enable those undergoing abseiling training to safely and securely ascend and descend as well as practise using different tools.


The service’s Operations & Training Officer (Cadet) Tsang Chi-wing noted that most of the emergency duties involve protecting hikers by escorting them from steep mountains to safe places. Their training mainly focuses on descending from height slowly with the use of ropes and other equipment.


“So the passageway and height of the second floor of the training centre indeed heightened our understanding of what equipment and techniques can enhance our operational efficiency.”


Besides taking height into consideration, rescue operations occasionally involve dealing with narrow spaces. This is why a simulation manhole is on-site as it helps the personnel to exercise carrying out such difficult rescues.


“This manhole enables us to try to simulate rescues with other specific equipment in the vertical and confined spaces, which really allows us to accumulate more practical experiences throughout the training.”


Hard-earned success


Operations & Training Officer (Tactical Force) Charles Lau, who participated in designing the training centre, recalled struggling with the limited space they have. In the interest of safety, he explained why calculating the structure’s load capacity was critically important.


“Because we have to consider the maximum number of persons that can stay in the training area here.”


Mr Lau said the centre’s design is in conformity with international standards that call for providing a safe and appropriate venue for training.


Diverse training


The Civil Aid Service offers three aspects of rescue training. Such aspects comprise training for newly recruited members, advanced training for the Emergency Rescue Company and training to use complex ropes and stretchers for the Mountain Search & Rescue Company.


All units are eligible to use the high-angle training centre depending on their training schedule.


The Cadet Corps once held an event in the centre to offer youngsters a glimpse of the specialised training the adult members undertake and they plan to do so again in the future.


Hong Kong permanent residents aged 18 or older are eligible to apply for the Civil Aid Service membership.


Newly recruited members must go through 160 hours of training and pass all tests to obtain the Certificate in Auxiliary Forces Basic Training Programme (Civil Defence).


The programme has been recognised under the Qualifications Framework as meeting accreditation standards at Level 3 and those who successfully complete it can become official members of the service.


Official members can then apply to join the Mountain Search & Rescue Company. Once they fulfil requirements, such as weight training, night navigation, high-altitude capability and so forth, they can proudly don the company’s red uniform.

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