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Short-circuit leads to major fire at V S Hospital

A Major fire broke out at the V S Hospital in Ahmedabad on Saturday afternoon,gutting equipment worth Rs 4 crore. While the hospital authorities denied any injury or loss of life due to the fire,an elderly woman died of “asphyxiation”.

Written by Express News Service | Ahmedabad | Published: April 11, 2010 1:50:12 am

HOSPITAL INFERNO: Medical equipment worth Rs 4 crore damaged; 350-odd patients shifted to different wards,hospitals

A Major fire broke out at the V S Hospital in Ahmedabad on Saturday afternoon,gutting equipment worth Rs 4 crore. While the hospital authorities denied any injury or loss of life due to the fire,an elderly woman died of “asphyxiation”.

Nearly 350 patients,including those admitted in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and catheterisation laboratory,were evacuated as soon as the fire broke out in the battery-inverter and power control room of the municipal hospital around 12.15 pm. Angiographies of 12 patients were going on in the cath lab,which was inaugurated nine months ago,when the incident occurred. Nearly 15 critically ill patients were admitted in the ICU,and most of them were on ventilator support.

According to the fire officials,the power supply equipment kept in the room adjoining the lab suffered maximum damage. The battery inverter was damaged beyond repair,said the fire chief.

Jyoti Sanghadia,manager at ICU,told The Sunday Express: “Technician Bharat Bhavsar alerted us when he saw smoke coming out of the storeroom. We immediately broke open the windows and took the patients to the Trauma Centre building.” Later,some patients were shifted to other wards,Shardaben Hospital and Civil Hospital. He added,“No casualty has been reported as of now. A disaster was averted as ICU and cath lab are located on the ground floor.”

The doctors and ward boys present at the site said they first heard a cracking sound on the ceiling and soon smoke filled the place.

Municipal Commissioner I P Gautam and city Mayor Kanaji Thakore later visited the hospital and took stock of the situation. Addressing the media,Gautam said: “There was smoke in paediatric,medical,surgical and other specialty wards. As a precautionary measure,all patients have been shifted to gynaecology,emergency and trauma wards. Also,10 patients shifted to Shardaben Hospital on their own.”

He said the fire damaged the lab,the 10-bed ICU and an upcoming ICU opposite the lab.

Rajesh Kishore,Principal Secretary (Health),said the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation was taking care of the situation. “We will see what we can do.”

UPS in cath lab is main source of fire: FSL
The Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) team,which examined the hospital premises after the fire,confirmed that the UPS installed in the cath lab was the primary source of the accident.
FSL officer A V Hingrajiya told The Sunday Express,“The UPS caught fire and the machines that were connected to it subsequently caught fire. Moreover,the main controlling unit of the cath lab was in the same room. When the angioplasty was going on,the doctors noticed a short-circuit in the machine. This machine was connected to the UPS. The room had three air conditioners,of which one caught fire during the short-circuit.” The FSL team is likely to visit V S Hospital on Sunday with the private company,which used to handle the electricity system and medical equipment in the hospital,to further ascertain the cause of fire.

‘Toxins in smoke were high,dangerous to handle’
Three officers of the Ahmedabad Fire and Emergency Services supervised the entire extinguishing operation.
Mehroz Dastoor,chief of the fire safety,Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) who led the team,said: “The store room in the cath lab has a battery which is connected to the direct current. When short-circuit occurred in the false ceiling panel lined with thermocol in the store room,the acids in the battery led to smoke. When we started our operation,the entire lab and the ICU were completely dark due to power failure.”
He added,“The toxins in the smoke were very high and dangerous to handle. There was zero per cent visibility and zero space area to breathe. The fire although broke out in one zone,it spread to both the lobbies very quickly.” While it was an alert lab technician,Bharat Bhavsar,who first raised an alarm after he spotted the smoke,every one including doctors and hospital staffers helped fire officials in evacuating the critical patients.

Only one fire extinguisher used
The fire department had provided 50 fire extinguishers — dry powder as well as carbon dioxide-based — to the hospital. But when the fire broke out today,just one extinguisher was used,according to fire chief M Dastoor. While hospital superintendent Dr M H Makwana refused to comment on the installation of fire extinguishers,Dastoor said the last safety drill was held eight months ago.”

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