Dr Fong explains evacuation chaos

A National Fire Authority officer and a CWM laundry staff member at the CWM hospital laundry area in Suva on Monday, May 27, 2019. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

AS many as 117 patients were evacuated during the fire that broke out at the boiler area of the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva on Sunday.

Acting medical superintendent Dr James Fong said they evacuated patients, who were closest to the location of the fire, to reduce the risk of smoke inhalation.

“When we did the initial evacuation, that was done with the members of the public because it was visiting hours together with the police and our team that were on the ground.

“It was a little bit chaotic only because there were members of the public who had started running before we could direct them where to go and that was the initial chaos that we had.”

He said there was a lot of movement of patients that was done before the staff of the hospital could direct them where to go.

“Eventually we were able to cool things down and get them to move into the correct place, these were some of the reasons why some patients were put in the wrong place initially and then we had to redirect them to the prearranged evacuation sites.”

He also said that all their pre-evacuation sites were logically plausible.

“They worked and we were able to refurbish those evacuation sites very quickly and as a soon as the smoke inhalation risk was reduced, we were able to get our electricity back, we were then able to move our patients back to their wards.”

Dr Fong added the mobilisation of evacuation sites into their wards began at 8pm on Sunday and was finally completed around 7am yesterday.

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