Karnataka: Lucky escape for 29 babies as fire breaks out in hospital

The air conditioner caught fire due to short circuit and the NICU was engulfed in smoke.
New mothers and relatives with their rescued babies in district general hospital in Tumakuru | Express
New mothers and relatives with their rescued babies in district general hospital in Tumakuru | Express

TUMAKURU: As Health Minister Ramesh Kumar was launching the universal healthcare scheme alongside Chief Minister Siddaramaiah in Bengaluru, lack of safety mechanism in the district general hospital here was exposed.Around 6.45 pm on Friday, fire broke out at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) giving tense moments for the mothers of the newborns and their relatives.

The air conditioner caught fire due to short circuit and the NICU was engulfed in smoke. If not the alert staff — a nurse Chikkasiddamma and her male counterpart Ramesh — had smashed the glass windows and let the smoke out, lives of as many as 29 newborns babies would have been at a risk, an eye witnesses said.  The fire extinguishers were not in place and hence the staff used the available water available which resulted in the smoke. With the lights off inside the NICU, the staff and the relatives of the babies found the rescue operation difficult. The police helped them with the torches. The babies were ultimately rescued with the co-ordinated effort.

The parents of the newborns belong to people from poor background and hailed from different places like Sira, Magadi, Nelamangala among others. “We were tensed as soon as we heard there was fire inside. God rescued my child,” sighed Soumnya Govindaraju of Kaveri Nagara in Mandya city.The panic-stricken patients and their attendants moved out of the hospital in fear.

Deputy Commissioner K P Mohanraj rushed to the spot and tried to calm down the situation by convincing the kin of the patients. SP Dr Divya V Gopinath also visited the spot. Speaking to ‘Express’, the SP clarified that since it’s an accident, the question of the guilty doesn’t arise.“The AC might be an old one and it caught fire due to short circuit. It was maintained well as the equipment incharge Shivaramu used to examine it periodically,” said district surgeon Dr Veerabhadraiah. 

None of the rescued babies had any complaints of illness as the rescue operations were carried out by the staff immediately, he said. The rescued babies were shifted to the Siddaganga and Sridevi private hospitals which have NICUs, he informed.

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