Smoky situation: Fire at LGH engulfs basement

Published: January 5, 2017

LAHORE: Patients at the Lahore General Hospital, some admitted with serious injuries, were running for their lives as a fire erupted in the basement of the medical facility.

A chaotic situation emerged as attendants were running helter skelter in an attempt to save their loves ones who were at the hospital for treatment.

Several operations and procedures had to be put on hold, while the emergency ward was shut down in this urgent situation.  Ironically, the fire extinguishing system was not in proper working order and rescue workers had to put out the blaze. Fortunately, no casualties were reported, while the cause of the fire is yet to be established. Smoke could be seen coming out of the building from far off areas. Lahore General Hospital is one of the biggest medical facilities in the city and caters to as many as 3,000 patients in the emergency and OPD wards on a daily basis. However, most of them returned home without any treatment on this occasion.

“Although the fire has been extinguished by rescue workers, the incident exposed the health department’s inefficiency yet again,” commented Dr Abdul Basit of LGH. He claimed the fire extinguishing system was not only out of order at LGH, but all of other major hospitals of Lahore. He fears a fatal incident might occur if these systems were not installed properly.

He was grateful that rescue teams arrived in a timely manner and put the fire out. The doctor said losses could have been greater as the fire erupted in the basement and smoke engulfed the ground floor and basement.

Out of order

Mismanagement of fire systems is plaguing larger health facilities of the city like Mayo Hospital, Jinnah Hospital and Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC).

On October 15, 2015, a fire broke out at the Services Hospital and the situation soon turned into a stampede. Some years earlier, there was a blaze at the same hospital and it resulted in the death of some children. Despite these incidents, the health department failed to install moderately equipped fire alarm systems and even a small fire can be catastrophic.

There are a few fire extinguishers installed at different hospitals, but all of them are out of order, says Young Doctors Association (YDA) General Secretary Dr Salman Kazmi.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 5th, 2017.

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