Health minister lauds three ‘heroic’ Johor hospital staff

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PETALING JAYA: Health Minister Dr S Subramaniam has lauded the three employees of Hospital Sultanah Aminah (HSA) who risked their lives to save their patients in yesterday’s fire.

Speaking to reporters at the Dewan Rakyat today, Subramaniam said the two nurses and a physiotherapy student, who braved the fire to evacuate patients trapped in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU), are now being warded at Hospital Sultan Ismail (HSI), due to lung injuries from smoke inhalation.

“They were trapped while attempting to move the patients to an area with better ventilation.

“However, they passed out after inhaling thick smoke. They are now in need of breathing assistance and have been placed in ICU,” he said.

Seven other staff of HSA were also injured and are currently under observation, he added.

The incident, the worse hospital fire in the country, saw six people killed and several others injured.

According to reports, the fire may have started from the ICU’s treatment room and spread within minutes in the ward, which housed seven patients and 10 staff.

“This could be due to the high oxygen level available in all sorts of gas and anesthetics that are easily combustible,” said Subramaniam.

However, the cause of the blaze is yet to be ascertained and to ensure a similar incident does not recur, Subramaniam has instructed the formation of an independent special committee to oversee safety in hospitals.

“I hope this committee can provide suggestions to improve safety measures of all hospitals and strengthen the periodical observation method.

Subramaniam has listed several precautionary measures including periodical inspection once every three months, six months or 12 months.

“Before construction, the hospital’s design must adhere fully to the requirements set by the relevant authorities including the Fire and Rescue Department, among others.

“The health ministry will only take over a building for operational purposes once the testing and commissioning processes are completed, and the Certificate of Fitness is obtained.”