April 23, 2021 3:57:57 am
In the wake of the hospital tragedy in Nashik where 22 patients on ventilator support died after their oxygen supply was interrupted due to leakage in an oxygen storage tank, a panel discussion was organised online on Thursday by veteran and serving fire department officers of Delhi, Maharashtra and Gujarat to discuss ways to prevent such tragedies in future. Several of them emphasised that hospitals must have “alternate arrangements for emergency conditions”.
On Wednesday, 22 patients on ventilator support died at the Maharashtra government-run Dr Zakir Husain Hospital in Nashik district after their oxygen supply was interrupted due to leakage in the main storage tank of the hospital during delivery of liquid oxygen from tanker.
A webinar titled ‘Nashik Oxygen Tank Leak and what we learn’ was organised by experts from the fire safety field, including RC Sharma, former director, Delhi Fire Service. Anil Mahajan, former chief fire officer (CFO) in Nashik, Rakesh Chaturvedi, fire chief at Adani port in Mundra of Kutch and Manjeet Mimrot, CFO of Arti Chemicals in Gujarat, also participated.
Anil Mahajan, who visited the site, said, “Initial findings have suggested that the leak occurred due to rapture in a supply pipeline at the oxygen storage tank due to which the pressure of the oxygen was uncontrollable. The automatic lock of the delivery valve did not shut and it was manually shut down. Due to the leakage, the supply of oxygen was interrupted for patients and the calamity occurred. I have found at the spot that there was no alternate pipeline arrangement made from storage tank to the vaporiser if the main system is shut. There was no storage of oxygen cylinders at the hospital in case there is a problem with the main storage tank.”
Similar views were expressed by R C Sharma. “Hospitals must have alternate arrangements for emergency conditions. Additional oxygen cylinders must be set up on the premises to ensure that the supply is not cut short.”
Rakesh Chaturvedi said the “welding quality” of the pipeline must be probed to find out the reason behind rapture and subsequent leakage. “Like highrise buildings must have an emergency exit as well apart from regular exit(s), hospital must also have emergency oxygen arrangement,” said Chaturvedi.
Experts also discussed better training for fire fighters to deal with cases of oxygen leak in future.
“Oxygen is highly combustible in nature and with its presence, it aggravates fire on a substance. Therefore in cases of oxygen leak, specific care has to be taken to ensure that it doesn’t lead to any other hazards. Moreover, we need to train our fire safety personnel in how to tackle oxygen leaks and equipment to handle this. If an industrial unit has a fore fighting station inside its premises, its firefighters must be acquainted with all kinds of possible hazards that can occur in the particular unit and be prepared to fight it,” said Sharma.
Meanwhile, a senior official of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) run Fire Safety Department told The Indian Express, “Extremely good care is required for safe and secure handling of oxygen reservoirs and cylinder banks. The end users of oxygen must have qualified technical staff round-the-clock to operate it. There should be a three-layer safety valves to stop the supply at the instance of a leakage. In Ahmedabad, a private hospital had faced similar situation ten years ago. We need to train both fire-fighting staff and hospital management to deal with such situations.”
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