Despite a detailed set of rules and regulations governing fire safety laws, many buildings in India remain negligent. It was negligence of these basic fire safety rules that caused the death of 93 people in the AMRI hospital, Kolkata, in 2011.
In a remarkable turn of events, doctors and nurses at Madhya Pradesh’s largest tertiary care facility, the Maharaja Yeshwantrao (MY) Hospital in Indore, rescued 47 new-born children after a fire on Thursday turned its neo-natal ICU into a gas chamber.
The hospital staff displayed great vigilance, awareness and courage in preventing another tragedy like the 2011 fire at a Kolkata medical facility, which had left 93 dead.
As per a report in the Times of India, both doctors and nurses smashed the windows open in the neo-natal ICU section of the hospital as smoke from the fire began to spread into the floor on which it was situated.
After shattering windows, they constructed a makeshift bridge — made of broken furniture and poles to the roof of an adjacent building — and carefully transported these babies still hooked to oxygen respirators to safety.
“Nurses and doctors would follow every baby, pumping hand-held respiratory support,” said the ToI report. “For nearly an hour, 19 children were given respiration manually through ambulatory bags and stabilised, even as firefighters fought the flames.” It took the firefighters nearly 15 minutes to douse the flames entirely.
With most fire-related deaths down to the inhalation of poisonous smoke, the newborns were in great danger. If the hospital staff had not reacted as quickly, the hospital could have suffered a real tragedy.
Initial assessments seem to indicate that the source of the fire was a malfunctioning ventilator that caught sparks. “The fire started in the out-born unit of NICU, where three ventilators were installed. It is the smoke that created panic and threatened the lives of babies admitted to this ward,” fire sub-inspector S N Sharma said. A confirmation will come after the completion of a magisterial probe.