The conduct of AMRI Hospitals, Kolkata, following the outbreak of the fire that claimed more than 90 lives on Friday, was appalling.
That the incident which occurred at 3.00 a.m. was reported to the Fire Department only at 4.10 a.m., that too by the nearest police station and not by the hospital authorities, points to their culpability. To make matters worse, they did not allow the local people to help in the rescue operations, thinking they could control the situation. But for such irresponsible conduct, many more precious lives could have been saved.
The authorities throughout the country should conduct vigorous checks in all high-rise buildings, especially hospitals.
Why is it that whenever a calamity occurs, the blame game starts among the different authorities? There are so many hospitals and nursing homes in residential areas across India that lack the basic facility of broad entry roads, parking facilities and fire exits. On what basis are they given permission to function? The accident at AMRI Hospitals was unfortunate. But if the tragedy could strike in such a big corporate hospital, one wonders what the plight of general hospitals would be.
Many posh, corporate hospitals are centrally air-conditioned. If a fire were to break out, helpless patients will inhale hot fumes containing toxic carbon monoxide, besides sustaining burns. The fumes will burn the air passage to the lungs, leading to suffocation. After an enquiry is conducted into the Kolkata tragedy, a few hospital and licensing authorities will be booked for criminal negligence. We will forget the incident and recall it when something similar happens somewhere else.
People's apathy towards their own safety is exploited by greedy, powerful corporates.
Creating awareness on disasters should begin from school. I appreciate The Hindu for publishing the news about the gallant act of P.K. Vineetha and Remya Rajan, the two nurses from Kottayam who died after saving eight patients.
We have learnt nothing from the 1997 Uphaar cinema fire or the Kumbakonam tragedy that killed 94 children in 2004.
What do we, as a nation, do other than condoling the deaths and paying some monetary compensation? We always close the stable door after the horse has bolted.
I salute the two nurses of AMRI for their bravery. May their tribe increase!
V. Tilak Subramanian,
The first thing to do in case of a fire in a building that is centrally air-conditioned is to switch off the AC fans. This helps in confining the smoke to a limited space.
The Kolkata fire is neither the first nor last accident caused by carelessness. As in the case of other tragedies, survivors and relatives of those who died on Friday will be given some money, which may not even reach them on time.
Hats off to the young men from the slums who rushed to the help of the patients! They should be rewarded. Those responsible for the negligence that led to the tragedy should be given stringent punishment.
Tragedy, it would seem, struck the unfortunate victims twice — once when they fell ill and had to be hospitalised, and the second time when they were caught in the fire. Three things stand out in the aftermath of the accident.
One, the Left parties did not make any political issue out of the tragedy. One can well imagine the ruckus Mamata Banerjee would have created had she not been in power. Two, the youth from the slums, who the rich hardly take a second look at, were the ones who rushed to their rescue first — with no relief material and no expectation. Last, the system will not change, however big the tragedy people face from time to time.
Mohammed Abdul Gaffar,
One wonders how the hospital authorities could stock radioactive material in the basement. That the dense acrid smoke got intensified due to a lack of outlet in the centrally air-conditioned wards points to structural deficiency. The rescue operation was carried out in the most haphazard way, as seen on television, by breaking open the glass doors and bringing down the critically ill in a crude manner. The voluntary help rendered by some youth from the slums was a solace.
The sacrifice of the two young nurses — who saved eight patients in the most dangerous and challenging situation — was inspiring. Their bravery should be duly honoured by the government.