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AIIMS Patients Shifted to Safdarjung Hospital as Fire Creates Panic, Docs Say Many Had Difficulty Breathing

Although there was no immediate threat from the fire itself from the patients, the problem that doctors soon realised they would face was from the plumes of smoke emanating from the fire, filling wards.

News18.com

Updated:August 17, 2019, 11:58 PM IST
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AIIMS Patients Shifted to Safdarjung Hospital as Fire Creates Panic, Docs Say Many Had Difficulty Breathing
Fireman trying to douse flames at AIIMS.
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The fire which started at AIIMs at around 5 pm today created chaos and panic among the patients and doctors at the hospital.

"After the fire, there was tremendous confusion amongst the patients and their relatives. It was a very busy time, as it most often is at AIIMS", said a resident doctor.

Although there was no immediate threat from the fire itself from the patients, the problem that doctors soon realised they would face was from the plumes of smoke emanating from the fire, filling wards.

"Patients were having difficulty breathing because of the smoke. We were especially concerned with the emergency and semi-emergency patients," said a doctor.

Doctors and patients said that the fire, its scale and the speed at which it spread led to panic among the patients. The fire started at the teaching block at AIIMS in New Delhi and initially the institute maintained that the fire had been contained.

"The fire was initially on the first and second floors of the teaching block. But even as the initial fire was being controlled, it soon spread to the third and then the fifth floor," said a doctor.

It was then, doctors said, that the patients began being shifted from place to another, with emergency patients being shifted to the adjacent Safdarjung Hospital. "It was raining and we were being shifted. It was complete chaos and everyone was panicking. Patients could be seen carrying their salines in their own hands while walking in the rain," said a resident doctor who didn't wish to be named.

The fire started on Saturday evening from the Microbiology department and thick plumes of smoke billowed from the building, sparking panic among patients, attendants and staff, and affecting emergency services.

At least 34 fire tenders were rushed to the spot as the blaze spread to five floors. Fire-fighters were struggling to completely douse it even after five hours, sources said.

Vipin Kental, the Director of Delhi Fire Services, said around 32 patients were evacuated after the smoke spread to the gastroenterology wing which is connected to the affected sections through a corridor.

Among the evacuated were some patients on life support, he said.

The Microbiology department's virology unit on the second floor of the teaching block has been completely gutted, officials said.

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