JB hospital doc denies rumours, relates rescue effort

pesakitPETALING JAYA: Medical staff have spoken up to clarify that there were no fatalities from among their colleagues due to the fire at the Sultanah Aminah Hospital in Johor Baru yesterday, The New Straits Times reported.

This followed false reports and comments being shared on social media that a doctor was one of victims pulled out by firefighters during evacuation.

“We are upset and disappointed over so much speculation on social media saying that doctors and medical staff had died in the fire,” Dr Narendra Balasekaran, a general surgeon at the hospital, told the daily.

He further explained the events yesterday morning when the fire first broke out at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the hospital.

“I was on my rounds on the fourth floor of the hospital with my medical team at about 9am when he heard the alarm going off. We realised there was a fire at the ICU two floors below, and rushed down to help.

“I was horrified when told that there were seven patients trapped inside the ICU ward,” Narendra was quoted as saying by the daily, adding that medical staff were already evacua­ting female pa­­tients from a surgical ward adjoining the ICU.

Despite the thick blanket of smoke coming from the ICU, Narendra said he and three other doctors decided to get in to see how the patients could be moved.

“I grabbed a blanket and wet it before dashing into the ward which was dark and filled with smoke.

“We reached the first patient, a woman, and just grabbed the bed and pushed her out.

“The bed was hot and I had to wrap the metal part with my towel. We were just so happy we managed to bring out that one patient first,” he said, adding that the firefighters came by then and joined them in taking out six other patients from ICU, according to NST.

Narendra commended his three fellow doctors in the rescue effort, namely Dr Shah Jahan, Dr Rishi Haran and Dr Ashok Kannan, explaining they were all not affected by the smoke as they had put on gas masks before rushing in.

“We did our best to save our patients and all the medical staff and nurses did their best and followed the evacuation procedures,” NST quoted him as saying of the experience which he called the most horrifying and traumatising in his 10-year career as a doctor.

Authorities had revealed yesterday that only one of the seven ICU patients survived, with the other six likely to have died as they were on ventilators which had shut off after the power and oxygen supply was cut.