LAHORE - After the fire incident at Punjab Institute of Cardiology last day, the same happened at Emergency of Sir Ganga Ram Hospital on Sunday, creating panic among medical staff, patients and their attendants who run outside the smoke-filled premises.

Attendants took the patients outside on their own, as the doctors, nurses and paramedical staff rushed out of the block to avoid suffocation. The closure of emergency exit caused difficulties in shifting of patients while the staff broke window panes for ventilation of smoke. Smoke continued to accumulate as the dysfunctional firefighting equipment hampered operation. All the patients were accommodated in other wards while three in critical conditions were shifted to the Services Hospital.

Advisor to Chief Minister Punjab on Health Kh Salman Rafiq, District Coordination Officer Muhammad Usman, Rescue 1122, SP Civil Lines and heavy police contingent reached the spot to monitor rescue operation. Rescue team managed to restore normalcy at Emergency in an operation that continued for three and half an hour.

As per the medical staff, frequent tripping and extra load of chiller, installed at second floor of emergency block, caused short circuiting, resulting into eruption of fire while the entire premises was filled with smoke due to lack of ventilation.

The paramedical staff alleged that instead of helping patients, the nurses rushed outside the emergency to save their own lives. They added that all the firefighting equipments were not in order.

As per the insiders, staff deputed at chiller plant was in the habit of not performing their duties. Janitorial staff and outsiders used the chiller room for smoking and taking drugs.

Talking to the media, Kh Salman Rafiq said that government was reviewing the causes of fire eruption at hospitals. He said that the government was directing management of public sector hospitals across the province to take measures for avoiding such incidents. Where needed, he said, old wiring would be replaced for avoiding short circuiting.

In future, he said, medical superintendent would be responsible for fire incidence at any hospital. He said that the government was reviewing all possibilities of fire and private contractors would be summoned for questioning. He said that the incident caused huge inconvenience to patients, which was regrettable. He informed that all the patients and their attendants were safe.

DCO Muhammad Usman said that the frequent tripping and overloading caused short circuiting in chiller room. He found it difficult to immediately estimate the financial loss.

Medical Superintendent Dr Umar Farooq Baloch said that 14 patients had been accommodated at other wards, while three in critical conditions had been referred to the Services Hospital. He said that patients needing emergency surgeries were accommodated at indoor operation theatres.