Updated: March 6, 2021 9:01:04 pm
Statements annexed to the chargesheet filed in the Shrey Hospital fire case, where eight Covid 19 patients died on August 6, 2020, indicate that most of the staff have any training in fire fighting and at the time of the fire, of the five persons on duty in the ICU, only one was present in the ward when the fire broke out.
The chargesheet names three accused – hospital owner and managing director Bharat Mahant, along with day-to-day hospital administrators Maheshbhai alias Malabhai Odedara and Babubhai Ahari, charging the three with the offences of IPC section 336, 337, 338 and 304-A.
These offences pertain to rash or negligent act endangering life, causing hurt and grievous hurt and death. Statements of the then fire chief MF Dastoor, which are part of the chargesheet, state that the hospital that had been designated for treating Covid-19 patients by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC), had not applied for a fire safety clearance certificate.
The state government designated team that went on a site visit found the hospital “lacking” in necessary requirement of staffers.
The hospital is sealed since August 6, 2020 and the Gujarat High Court, in an order dated February 26, further directed the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) to not remove the seal unless the court directed it.
The chargesheet filed in December 2020 states that the fire started from electrical components in the ICU and a table fan at 3:03 am.
It also notes that there were no fire extinguishers in the ICU ward and despite having fire extinguishers outside the ward, medical and paramedical could not control what started as a nominal fire and became a bigger fire as the staff had not received any training pertaining to fire safety and emergency rescue nor were there any fire alarm system in place.
The chargesheet also notes that the fire took a bigger form owing to screw fitted panels over windows as a result of which smoke could not escape from the ICU.
“In this regard, the accused hospital administrators did not impart necessary training to medical/paramedical staff and (the accused) did not renew their fire safety NOC upon expiration and did not install fire alarm system…resulting in a negligent offence.”
The chargesheet has listed 95 witnesses and was filed by Ahmedabad city ‘A’ division deputy commissioner of police MA Patel. The trial is at the stage of issuing summons to the accused and will be conducted by the Ahmedabad metropolitan magistrate court.
The annexed statements of those who were on duty for the ICU ward on the day of the incident reflect that of the five designated for the fourth floor ICU ward, all but one were not present in the ward. Five key medical staffers were on duty between 8 pm and 8 am on the day for the concerned ward – Dr Imrankhan Hussein (31), doctor at Shrey hospital, Dr Mitwaben Malviya (25), staff brothers Chirag Patel (20), who is a BSc nursing student, deputed on Covid-19 duty, and Gauravbhai Chauhan (28) and staff nurse Rahelben Christian.
As per Dr Hussein’s statement, he went to the “third floor to rest at around 12:30 am”. Dr Malviya said she left the ICU ward at around 1-1:15 am, went to the general ward and then went to the second floor to visit her uncle who was admitted, went back to the fourth floor to “rest” outside the ICU. Staff nurse Rahelben Christian said as she was feeling “cold and anxious”, she came out of the ICU to take a paracetamol and was “resting” in the waiting area.
Chirag left the ward at around 2:45 am to drink water outside and at the time only staff brother Gauravbhai was present inside the ICU ward.
As per Gauravbhai Chauhan’s statement,he was in the ward charging his phone and listening to songs when at around 3 am, he heard a buzzing sound coming from bed number 9. When he went near bed number 9 he saw the motor of the table fan between bed number 9 and eight was emitting smoke, following which he pulled out the plug of the fan. “Thereafter the fan suddenly caught fire and the fan broke off into two pieces, one of which fell near bed 9 and the other near bed 8. I used a cloth to douse the fire from the piece near bed 9 but in the meantime the fire from the piece near bed 8 spread to the curtains,” he states.
A site visit report by a committee of three doctors from the health department recorded insufficient staffing. “As per the ICU norms, one staff nurse for two patient ratio needs to be maintained, which was found to be lacking,” the report said.
Now retired, then the chief fire officer at Ahmedabad Fire and Emergency Services (AFES) of AMC MF Dastoor’s statement notes that Shey Hospital qualifies as a low-rise building (below 18 metres in height) which does not require a fire NoC but since it is a hospital, a fire NoC is a must as per existing bylaws. As per Dastoor’s statement, the hospital had last procured fire NoC in April 2019, valid until April 2020 whereafter there was no application or request seeking a renewal. Upon being asked if there was any directions with respect to fire NoC by the Gujarat High Court following the Takshashila fire in May 2019 Dastoor had stated that there was no such direction.
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