As it is Mother’s Day next Sunday, this week and the next I would like to introduce to you two colleagues who are also good mothers. At work, they have to be ready anytime to handle whatever emergencies come their way. They are just as good as men. Family-wise, they spend all their time after work with their children, taking good care of them. Here, let’s show our support for all working mothers!
With the onset of the rainy season in Hong Kong, severe rainstorms may trigger landslides. The public must stay vigilant. Ms TING Sui-man, the working mother I am introducing to you this time, joined the Geotechnical Engineering Office (GEO) of the Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD) as Geotechnical Engineer back in 2011. She has worked in two different divisions, both of which are related to landslide emergency services. A petite and cheerful lady, Ms TING is “Ting Ting” to her colleagues.
Coordinating Landslide Emergency Services
Currently, Ms TING is mainly responsible for assisting in the coordination of the GEO’s landslide emergency services. With over 200 geotechnical engineers and technical officers working shifts, the GEO provides 24-hour emergency services all year round to give geotechnical advice to government departments on contingency actions to be taken in case of danger arising from landslides. The GEO will, among others, assess the situation at scene and advise whether closure of roads, evacuation of residents from the affected buildings, and urgent repair works should be implemented.
When a landslip warning or typhoon signal number 8 or above has been issued by the Hong Kong Observatory (HKO), the GEO’s Emergency Control Centre (ECC) in the Civil Engineering and Development Building at Homantin will be activated to handle landslide incidents, safeguard public safety, and assist government departments to restore public facilities affected by the incidents. Ms TING is responsible for the coordination of various supporting activities, such as deployment of staff to work shifts, ensuring the proper functioning of equipment and helping in the dispatch of geotechnical engineers to the landslide scenes as soon as possible for assessment. Therefore, she must be prepared to start her work anytime during the entire rainy season. Furthermore, she is also responsible for the arrangement of training on landslide emergency services for colleagues. As a matter of fact, the GEO has introduced virtual reality environment for such training this year.
Climbing mountains and wading rivers under the scourging sun and in the rain
Having been a geotechnical engineer for years, for a period of time in her career, Ms TING had to make a long and difficult journey to work in some remote areas. Her first position in the GEO was to operate the Landslip Warning System and manage the raingauges operated by the GEO. There are about 90 GEO automatic raingauges all over Hong Kong, with some located in places as far as Fan Lau in Lantau Island, Po Toi Island and Tap Mun. As decisions on whether to issue a landslip warning are made jointly by the HKO and GEO with reference to data collected from raingauges and other information, Ms TING and technical officers have to build and repair raingauges under the scourging sun or in the rain from time to time. This is not an easy task according to Ms TING.
On 29 August last year, the HKO issued Amber and Red rainstorm warning signals as well as landslip warning. Landslides occurred at different locations along Fan Kam Road, leading to its complete closure. At the time, Ms TING and her colleagues were working together in the operation of the ECC. On that day, the ECC promptly sent geotechnical engineers to the scene for inspection and drew up a plan for urgent repair works with contractors of the maintenance departments. As a result, the traffic lanes were reopened before the school year started on 3 September. Now, the landslide prevention works for the respective natural terrains have entered the final stages. Ms TING finds her job very meaningful as she says that landslide emergency services, if carried out properly, can safeguard public safety.
Motivation comes from her children
A mother of a son and a daughter, Ms TING admits that she is inevitably feeling stressed as she has to fulfil the heavy commitments of both work and family life, which includes meeting her children’s education needs. That said, her children are her biggest motivation. After a day of work, her son would offer his arm for her head to rest on, while her daughter would say she is looking for a book named “100 ways to be happy” to cheer her up.
Ms TING says that she does not want to be a “monster mom”, so she would never require her children to be at the top of the class, or to participate in too many talent training programmes. She wants them to be able to grow up in a relaxed and happy environment. Smilingly, she says that some of her fondest moments are seeing her children coming back from school, sweating a lot with dishevelled hair, showing that they must have had a good day at school. However, she does have a certain level of expectation on her children’s moral values, especially as our society is so full of temptations. She hopes that her children will “keep a moral compass”, whereby they can distinguish right from wrong and know what should or should not be done. She believes that by having the right thoughts, taking the right action and saying the right words, they will lead a life of abundance and success.
After sharing Ms TING’s story, I hope that members of the public will get a better grasp of our colleagues’ work. To maintain public safety, they need to remain unfazed and always get prepared to offer emergency service in times of inclement weather. On top of that, they are also shouldering family responsibilities. I hope that everyone will continue to provide unlimited support and encouragement for all the hard-working, good mothers on earth, whether it is Mother’s Day or not.
5 May, 2019Back