The selfless efforts of P.K. Vineetha and Remya Rajan in rescuing the patients of the AMRI hospital at Dhakuria from the tragedy on Friday has resulted in growing calls among people from various walks of life to honour the valiant nurses, who ultimately had sacrificed their lives amidst the raging fire.

The nurses, forsaking their personal safety, had sprung into action to ensure the safety of the nine patients, who were lodged at the female general ward of the hospital. While they had managed to save as many as eight lives, the fearless duo was left defeated by smoke and heat, during their attempt to rescue the sole remaining patient in the ward.

Former Supreme Court judge K.T. Thomas was of the opinion that they richly deserved recognition for their acts of ultimate sacrifice.

“Although they could have escaped after savings the lives of one or two of their patients, they had instead chosen to ensure the safety of all who had depended upon them. These brave souls are worthy of any posthumous gallantry awards that acknowledge their unbound commitment to mankind and their profession.”

Neurologist and former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Kerala Dr. B. Ekbal shared the same views. “In the context of nurses being harassed and grossly underpaid all over India, it is their noble gesture and this calls for proper recognition at the national level. They should be bestowed with gallantry awards at the earliest.”

The eminent personalities were actually echoing the sentiments of a growing number of concerned netizens. Following the reportage of the nurses’ efforts that had led to their death, the web portal of The Hindu had soon developed into a medium that facilitated a discussion on the altruistic nature that had spurred them to put aside fear for their own safety.

“These two people are a symbol of highest values of young India in terms of commitment and self-sacrifice. They deserve to be recognised for their bravery posthumously, says J. Ravindranath.

Sowmen Mitter remarks, “Were Florence (Nightingale) alive, she'd no doubt revel in having two such sisters as could emulate her spirit to the letter.”

“The manner in which they answered the call of duty makes us proud. It goes some way in erasing the shame the country has earned on account of their employers whose irresponsibility allowed this to happen. The government must do something significant and relevant to honour the memory of these brave nurses while at the same time bringing the guilty to book”, said Dipankar Sengupta. Jayaraman Subramanian also opined that the Government should help the nurses’ families, who are in distress and grief.

The discussion also touched upon serious aspects that concerned the working environment of nurses across the country.

Dr. Avinash, who emphasised on the overlooked plight of nurses, reacted on lines similar to those put forth by Dr. Ekbal. “In any moment of crisis it is the nursing staff who respond first and continue to extend their services sincerely until the last minute. They do it with a humane touch…. (In this particular case), had these two nurses got some support they would have saved the 9th life and would have been alive today. It is my humble request to the while of medical fraternity to respect Nurses. The backbone of India’s health is an able nurse. Government should concentrate on establishing more nursing colleges and providing quality education and skills. It is a matter of concern the nurses are made to work as bonded staff for a very small salary for 2-3 years of completion of their education, failing which their certificates are withheld. The Central Government should look into this matter very seriously.”

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