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Fire at Emergency: PGI forms two panels to find cause, damage

Six OTs to remain closed for at least two days, alternative arrangements made for surgeries.

punjab Updated: Apr 13, 2018 21:57 IST
HT Correspondent
Patients will not suffer as alternative arrangements have been made, said director Dr Jagat Ram. 
Patients will not suffer as alternative arrangements have been made, said director Dr Jagat Ram. (HT File/Representative image )

A day after fire broke out inside an operation theatre on the second floor of the Emergency at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), the institute director constituted two committees to ascertain the cause and damage.

Meanwhile, six operation theatres will remain shut for at least two days. However, patients will not suffer as alternative arrangements have been made, said director Dr Jagat Ram.

Violations galore
  • The fire department has raised several concerns in its audit of the PGIMER’s seven buildings in the past two years
  • Motorable roads not constructed around buildings
  • Pressurisation system not installed
  • No separate underground water tanks and pump rooms
  • No emergency staircase in some buildings
  • No protection for transformers and generator sets

“We have constituted one committee under dean, reserach, Dr Arvind Rajwanshi to know the exact cause of fire. He will submit the report by the evening,” said the director. Another committee has been constituted under Dr GD Puri, head of the anaesthesia department.

“It will find the cost of damage due to fire. It will also look after restoration work of the six OTs,” he said. The director said while five OTs will be ready within two days, the renovation of the gynae OT will take some time.

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OT complex sealed

It was around 10pm on Wednesday that fire broke out in the OT-3 (gynaecology) located inside the New Emergency OT complex.The entire complex was sealed on Thursday.

“While OT-3 has been gutted, the other five OTs have blackened walls that need whitewash. Minor repairs are also needed,” said Dr Jagat Ram. Meanwhile, surgeries have been shifted to the Advanced Trauma Centre, ward 22 of the Emergency and other OTs. “Timings of OTs in ward 22 will be extended, and if needed, doctors can also use the neurosurgery OT, which is not operational at the moment,” said the director.

What caused spark?

Even as an OT technician claimed the fire was sparked from a needle destroyer, director Jagat Ram said he didn’t think so. An OT technician, who was on duty when the incident took place, said on the condition of anonymity: “Sparking is common while disposing of needles. There was an empty baby trolley right next to the needle destroyer and the staff forgot to turn off its oxygen supply. It led to the fire.”

Panic had spread in the Emergency as it got engulfed with smoke on Wednesday night. An official statement issued by the PGIMER on Thursday stated: “The security and fire office of the PGI got into action and all patients were rescued from operation theatres and shifted to safer areas.” There was no loss to life of patients as well as staff posted in New Emergency OT, it stated.

“At around 1am, all services were restored and patients were shifted back to their wards,” said the release.

Sensors failed to work

Even as one OT was gutted and smoke spread in the building, the fire alarm failed to go off. A senior administrative officer, on the condition of anonymity, said cellotape was found pasted on two fire sensors. In the last two years, the fire department has sent several notices to the PGIMER.

A hospital official said they got the no-objection certificate for four of the seven buildings around two months back and work has started on rectifying the violations.