National Medical Centre to install exhaust system to deal with smoke

The basement of the hospital had caught fire, but the smoke had spread to upper floors.

Our Correspondent February 22, 2013

KARACHI: The 200-bed National Medical Centre on Korangi Road, where a fire broke out on Tuesday morning, has now decided to install a powerful exhaust system in the building to deal with smoke in case a similar incident happens in the future.

The fire had started in the ultrasound lab in the basement of the hospital, before spreading to other parts of the basement. It threw patients and the hospital staff into panic mode, after the smoke travelled to upper floors of the building. However, the fire department managed to extinguish the fire within an hour, and no casualties or major injuries were reported.

“It was more of a panic due to the smoke, as the fire was limited to a small area only,” Dr Mohammad Moosa, head of planning and development at the hospital, told The Express Tribune on Thursday. “We are glad that the incident pointed out a problem [at the building], without causing any major damages.”

The National Medical Centre has a 24-hour laboratory, a blood bank, and a cardiac and general emergency unit, among other medical facilities. It also has an outpatients department.

While the building already had firefighting equipment on every floor, coupled with designated fire exits, they were not used when the fire broke out around 9am on Tuesday. A thick cloud of smoke had spread to the ground and first floors of the building. Many people had clambered on to the roof of the building, fearing that the fire had spread to the upper floors of the building.

However, the hospital’s management has now decided to install the exhaust system, to ward smoke out of the building in case of a similar incident, said Dr Moosa. He added that despite all the panic, it took them a couple of hours to get everything back on track at the hospital.

Yet, around 18 patients at the centre had to be shifted to other hospitals after the incident. Dr Seemin Jamali, director of emergency services at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, had earlier said that a majority of the patients were brought to Jinnah hospital and the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases

Published in The Express Tribune, February 22nd, 2013.


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