Friday April 19, 2024

Short-circuiting: Hospital emergency evacuated

By M Waqar Bhatti
August 11, 2018

KARACHI: The emergency department of the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center (JPMC) was temporarily evacuated on Friday morning after heavy smoke from short-circuiting electric cables filled the ward, officials said.

Staff and patients noticed and complained about the smell of smoke around 7:45am inside the air-conditioned halls and rooms of the emergency department, but no one could figure out where the smell was coming from, said Dr Seemin Jamali, the Executive Director of JPMC. Soon, smoke filled the entire department and the hospital administration immediately evacuated patients and staff, she said, adding that the fire brigade was called in.

Teams of police, Rangers, and other rescue services also reached the hospital and started evacuating patients, while the KE and fire brigade officials began to work on putting the fire out and restoring the electric cables so that the ward’s operations could resume. “The process went smoothly and all the patients and staff remained safe,” Dr Jamali said. Most patients were shifted to the surgical department temporarily, while some serious patients were shifted to the Intensive Care Units (ICUs). Those who required first aid were discharged after treatment. Dr Jamali said that the emergency facility was reopened within a few hours. According to her, there was no damage reported to any surgical equipment, including X-ray, ultrasound and other machines, while medicines and equipment at the two surgical theatres also remained safe during the fire. An official of the city fire brigade said they received the first information of fire at JPMC at around 7:50 am and dispatched two fire tenders immediately, while alerting all of the city’s fire stations.

“We also alerted the other hospitals in case patients could be shifted there from JPMC, while fire departments of other departments including KPT were also alerted,” he said. “It appeared to be a minor incident involving electrical cables at the emergency department.” The department was reopened within two hours and its patients were brought back after the fire brigade and KE officials declared it safe. Initial investigation revealed that a short circuit might have caused a fire in the wires which led to smoke filling the department, said Dr Jamali. She added she had formed an inquiry committee to ascertain the cause and present its recommendations to prevent such incidents in the future. “We have also asked the National Engineering Services Pakistan, which constructed the building to inspect the facility and see if any improvement is required to make it more secure for patients and the staff,” she said. “We have also informed the health department so that they could provide their input to prevent such incidents in the future.”