CHENNAI: Hundreds of patients in the Kanchi Kamakoti Childs Trust Hospital at Nungambakkam were evacuated for a short period of time on Wednesday after an outdoor cooler plant of the air conditioning system burst and acrid smokes entered the hospital building. However, casualties were avoided as the fire was contained within 30 minutes.
Locals said around noon they heard a loud blast and saw the cooler plant located in the open space on the fourth floor of the hospital building on flames. Panic prevailed for next few minutes as smoke entered the hospital building.
Nurses and the parents rushed out with the children admitted in the hospital and stood on the street. “A few children, to whom drips were being administered, were also hurriedly moved out. “We were all under great panic until everyone reached out,” said a nurse.
“We managed to quickly move every patient out, except those in the ICU. The fire was contained by our in-house team before the fire service team arrived,” said Dr Bala Ramachandran, medical director of the hospital.
He said a new cooling plant was being installed and the fire broke out when a worker was using a welding machine in the plant.
As hundreds of patients were waiting on the street around the hospital, the fire service team put out the fire in about 20 minutes giving clearance for the patients to move in.
“The risk in such accidents involving cooler systems is that poisonous gases are emitted and people inhaling them become unconscious quickly. The thick smoke will also blind people preventing them from moving out, thus trapping them. But we were able to avoid such situations today since we were able to quickly put off the fire,” said a firefighter.
Health and family welfare secretary J Radhakrishnan visited the hospital soon after the accident. Speaking to media persons, he said the Health department would issue instructions to all hospitals to take adequate precautionary measures to meet such emergency situations.