Lessons from CCC Kei Chun Primary School tragedy: what to do in an emergency?

Lessons from CCC Kei Chun Primary School tragedy: what to do in an emergency?

With all the hubub about the actions of CCC Kei Chun Primary School's staff in the tragic death of a 10 year old, we're missing the bigger picture

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Law Cheuk-ki's father Law Tak-fai (left) and mother Lam Wai-kin, attend the inquest.
Law Cheuk-ki's father Law Tak-fai (left) and mother Lam Wai-kin, attend the inquest.
Photo: Dickson Lee

It is hard to imagine what any teacher would do when faced with finding a student unconscious at school. But that is exactly what happened on December 9, 2013 at the now infamous CCC Kei Chun Primary School in Mei Foo. Ten year old Law Cheuk-ki was the student and we now know that she had fallen to her death and landed on the basketball court. What happened afterwards has had many people wondering about the whether or not the school fullfiled its duty of care. It also has people wondering about how paranoid a school has be to not give the student the fastest and best help available.

The open verdict given by the coroner Ko Wai-hung, and his damning summary in which he said the vice principals had been dishonest in their accounts of what had happened on that day leaves even more questions in the minds of those following the case.

It is incomprehensible that, upon coming to the scene and noting that Cheuk-ki had no pulse and was not breathing, help was not summoned immediately. Training for these kinds of emergencies should enforce a routine of actions to be performed in sequence for the best outcome. Just as kids are taught to “stop” “drop” and “roll” if their clothing catches fire, so first responders should be taught the appropriate drill, which would include when to summon help, and how to summon help. Punching 9 9 9 on a mobile should be a reflex that does not require thought. Giving someone CPR is a violent act and should not be the first an only thought on a rescuer’s mind.

If parents are entrusting their children to schools, surely those in charge of the schools should have some sort of training to look after the kids in the event of an emergency. And apparently vice principal Shek Ling was in charge of the school’s safety and its St John Ambulance group.

But in all of this drama we have lost sight of something more important. A ten year old girl fell off a building. That is where the shock should lie. There is a very high possibility that she took her own life.

Child suicides are not handled very well in Hong Kong media. We step back to let friends and family grieve, as indeed we should. Then we move on to follow the news and they are lost from public view. But they happen. They appear to be getting worse and, according to a report by the government-established Child Fatality Review Panel, are the leading cause of death among children under the age of 18.

It is easy to get sidetracked by the CCC Kei Chun Primary School horror show. Here is someone we can hold responsible for something that is too chilling to talk about. But we need to tackle the tough issues otherwise we will be failing in our duty of care to the city’s vulnerable youngsters.

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