For Puneet Sood and his wife, Tuesday was one of the happiest days in their life, as a baby boy was born into their family. But in a matter of a few hours, it turned out to be a nightmare after an air-conditioner installed in the hospital ward where Puneet's wife was admitted caught fire.
Fortunately, Puneet's presence of mind saved the day for the family. But what worries him is the “utter callousness” of hospital authorities.
Although the management of Privat Hospital claims it to be a “well-maintained” facility, the accident exposed the lack of preparedness to deal with such eventualities.
Located on MG Road in DLF City, the 75-bed hospital draws patients from all over the country and abroad. The incident took place around 9.30pm. The fire was so intense that it could have engulfed occupants in the room. Puneet looked around for help but nothing came his way.
“I saw flames coming out of the AC but neither the fire alarm rang nor did any disaster management person from the hospital come to our rescue. A few minutes later an attendant came rushing with a bucket of water. He would have died of electrocution, had I not stopped him,” said Sood.
Finally, Puneet could manage to get a fire extinguisher, which was fitted on the corridor wall. But no one from the hospital staff knew how to operate it. “Eventually, I had to use it myself,” said Sood.
Soon after hearing the commotion, an occupant from the adjacent room (105) Amit Khera joined Sood and ran to open an emergency door to create an outlay for the smoke, only to find the door locked with the nursing staff having no clue of the keys. “We had to break it open. It seemed the door had never been opened in months, if not years. The entire room as well as corridor was full of smoke and patients could have died of suffocation,” said Khera.
“What was even more disconcerting was that no doctor had come to see if my wife and daughter were safe,” said Sood.
Sood said he had filed a complaint in the DLF City (Phase-2) police station and investigations are on. The hospital authorities tried to play down the incident by calling it a minor fire which died down on its own and no fire fighting equipment had to be used. When HT insisted that an extinguisher was used, Dr Munish Prabhakar, who is the deputy director of hospital refused to agree.
When asked why both doors on either sides of the corridor, including the emergency door, were locked; Dr Prabhakar said: “We do it for safety purpose at night. The keys are hung near the reception area where the nurse sits.”