AHMEDABAD: A 25-year-old attendant showed presence of mind and unflinching courage as he saved the lives of three elderly patients from a raging fire that broke out early on Thursday at an Ahmedabad-based hospital, where he works.
Eight other patients- five men and three women- who were being treated at the ICU ward of the COVID-19 designated Shrey Hospital in Navrangpura area of the city, died in the blaze, fire brigade officials said.
The fire broke out around 3.30 am on the fourth floor of the four-storey facility, which is one of the 60-odd private hospitals authorised by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) to treat coronavirus patients.
When the fire broke out, there were 11 patients on the fourth floor.
According to police, a special ICU chamber was created on the fourth floor for critical COVID-19 patients.
Hospital attendant Chirag Patel, who risked his own life and saved three elderly patients from the blaze, said the fire was first spotted by another attendant on the fourth floor around 3 am.
"When I went to the fourth floor after that, I saw flames coming out from a monitor of some medical equipment near a patient's bed. Soon, that patient's hair caught fire. I doused it immediately," Patel told reporters after giving his statement to the police.
"Just as I pulled the bed away from the monitor, another attendant's PPE suit caught fire. Luckily, a doctor came upstairs with a bucket of water and poured it on the attendant and saved him.
"Suddenly, there was a blast inside the ICU ward. Though we went up again to rescue patients, it was not possible to go inside due to thick smoke and extremely low visibility," he added.
According to Patel, since other attendants and doctors were feeling uneasy due to the smoke, he decided to stay there and ask others to go downstairs for their own safety.
Meanwhile, the hospital staff alerted the fire brigade.
Patel added that there were 11 patients on the fourth floor at that time and their rescue was a difficult task.
"I was the only one left on the fourth floor and I decided to save as many as possible. I first lifted an elderly woman patient, who could not walk, in my arms and took her downstairs," he said.
Patel returned to the spot even as thick smoke had engulfed the area.
He helped another elderly woman, who had fallen down and could not walk, in climbing down safely along with a male patient.
"Since the smoke was getting very dense and my oxygen level was dropping, I couldn't go inside again. I then climbed the fourth floor using outside pipes and tried to rescue the patients from windows, but couldn't break them," he claimed.
"I am glad that I was able to save three critical patients. For me, a patient's life is more important than my own life," the attendant said.
Ravindra Patel, DCP Zone 1, said that the police have recorded the statements of the hospital staff as part of the probe.
"We also recorded the statement of the attendant, who said he has saved the lives of three elderly patients," the official said.