A fire broke out at the Vadodara Municipal Corporation-run SSG hospital on Tuesday where 272 Covid-19 positive patients were undergoing treatment.
The fire broke out in one of the ICU wards on the first floor of the Covid-19 isolation building, fire officials said. Though no one was injured, all 39 patients from the ICU ward have been evacuated. Three patients have been shifted to GMERS Gotri hospital as they were critical due to their ailment.
Fire officials said that the blaze was caused by a short circuit in the wiring of one of the ventilators in the ICU. The incident occurred shortly after 7pm when one of the ventilators in ICU-2 sparked and burst into flames. The staff on the floor are said to have immediately doused the fire with an extinguisher, thus saving many lives and preventing the fire from spreading to the other units.
Parth Brahmabhatt, Chief Fire Officer, Vadodara Fire and Emergency Services (VFES), said, “We had rushed to the spot immediately after receiving the call. But by the time we reached, the staff had played a very crucial role which prevented a major catastrophe. Just three days ago, we had conducted a mock drill at SSG, teaching the staff members the techniques for dousing different types of flames as well as evacuating patients.”
Brahmabhatt said that although four fire tenders were rushed to the spot, keeping in mind the fire at Shrey hospital in Ahmedabad last month, the fire fighters did not have to use the hosepipe.
Brahmabhatt said, “Had the staff not used their presence of mind and used the ABC Fire Extinguisher on the machine, it could have ended in a very terrible way. The staff emptied the entire container on the machine in such a way that the negative and positive energy that goes into the machine when it is still connected to the socket was snapped due to its auto tripping ability. It also resulted in the electricity going off on the entire floor.” ABC is an extinguisher that uses monoammonium phosphate, a dry chemical, to douse flames.
A woman from Godhra in Panchmahals district, whose husband was admitted to the ICU and was one of the first patients to be wheeled out of the building with his oxygen supply still on, said, “I was very scared. We all remember the incident in Ahmedabad and I am grateful to whoever saved lives here. We were feeling helpless waiting outside when we heard screams from inside the ward. Some men waiting outside rushed in and helped wheel out the beds. We could not see any fire but there was smoke coming out of the windows.”
Another man, whose father, aged 58, was on ventilator support, said, “There should be a complete inquiry into this incident to understand what is going on. Why are Covid-19 hospitals seeing fire incidents? How can a ventilator catch fire like this? I was extremely worried about my father’s wellbeing but he is fine. We are glad they brought him out on time and we could be there next to him.”
Scenes from outside the hospital told the story of panic that hit the health facility, although the fire was brought under control. The beds were lined up outside the building. Relatives and local people helped the staff by holding on to medical equipment attached to the patients.
Officer on Special Duty Vinod Rao and Superintendent of SSG hospital, Dr Ranjan Aiyar remained unavailable for comment but staff of the hospital confirmed that at least three critical patients were shifted to GMERS-run Gotri medical college in Vadodara immediately after the fire broke out.
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