LAHORE: Amid the cry of sirens at 12:30am, a person at the Jinnah Hospital shouts at the top of his lungs, “Run outside; there is a bomb.”
In response, doctors, nurses, attendants, paramedical staff, sanitary workers and parking staff all vacate the building and run out.
The resulting chaos causes a stampede and three people suffer minor injuries. Those who remain unscathed are scared out of their wits.
The Jinnah Hospital security director reaches outside the hospital, along with law enforcement personnel, and announces that this was merely a mock exercise.
“However, the one thing that was exposed was the health department’s false claim that hospitals are provided state-of-the-art security arrangements,” comments Dr Rana Arif of the Jinnah Hospital.
“You see, there are hundreds of people in panic, while the government has no plans to instill confidence in people,” he points out.
The doctor says he was standing at the door of emergency ward when the stampede occurred. “For God’s sake, do something with potential,” he requests.
The mock exercise was conducted under the observation of Model Town SP Ismail Kharak. When contacted, the police officer said the exercise was carried out to conduct a fresh ‘security audit’ of the hospital. “We have found plenty of security lapses during the exercise,” he added.
“We suggest the parking lot be shifted to another place as all vehicles pass through the emergency gate and this is dangerous,” he highlights. The SP underlines there are no security arrangements at the front gate for entering vehicles.
Kharak said although CCTV cameras were fully functional, authorities noticed other locations that needed proper surveillance, while a public addresses system must be installed at all places.
The policeman said there was a need to separate the medical college premises and hospital. He added there was no wall between the college and university, allowing people to roam free. “More check posts should be established, while security personnel must be trained to tackle demanding situations,” he pointed out.
He stressed the fire alarm and emergency exit doors should also be placed properly as thousands of visit the medical facility. Kharak complained that the hospital lacked these key elements.
He said the hospital administration received a requisition form from the police department and hoped the all security arrangements to save the lives of people in case of an untoward incident. “We are in consultation with the hospital administration,” he replied.
Despite several attempts, the security advisor of the Jinnah hospital was not available for comments. However, a health department spokesman said that actual purpose of the mock exercise was to identify security lapses. “People should take this exercise positively as the decision was taken to benefit the hundreds of people who visit the hospital daily,” he stated.
The spokesman said the administration would now be able to arrange extraordinary security arrangements after the exercise. “There were slight incident, but I repeat it is for the safety of people,” he concluded.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 21st, 2017.