Regular-article-logo Thursday, 30 November 2023

Change eludes Calcutta Medical College a day after blaze

Little sign of preparedness

Our Special Correspondent Calcutta Published 04.10.18, 09:18 PM
A queue for medicines in front of the pharmacy at the OPD building of the Calcutta Medical College and Hospital on Thursday.

A queue for medicines in front of the pharmacy at the OPD building of the Calcutta Medical College and Hospital on Thursday. Picture by Pradip Sanyal

Portable fire extinguishers and hosepipes missing, a fire tender on standby was the only sign of fire safety at the Calcutta Medical College and Hospital a day after a fire broke out at the College Street institution.

The portable fire extinguishers were removed from the hospital as most of them were found to be past their expiry dates, hospital sources said.


The hosepipes were taken out from the boxes on Thursday as they had never been checked since their installation after a fire in the Ronald Ross building of SSKM Hospital in November 2016.

“The extinguishers and hosepipes were removed to avoid embarrassment in case of an inspection. They will soon be replaced,” the source said.

A fire tender was kept on standby in front of the pharmacy unit of the hospital throughout Thursday.

“Forensic experts are conducting examinations. So we can’t comment,” an official of the hospital said.

The wards in the MCH building, from where nearly 250 patients had been carried out — many of them in bedsheets and mattresses that acted as makeshift stretchers — after smoke engulfed the building, were back in operation on Thursday. But sources said the hospital authorities had not carried out any inspection to check the fire-safety arrangements in the wards.

The female medicine ward on the first floor of the four-storeyed building was, however, closed. Patients who had to leave the intensive coronary care unit in the cardiology wing returned on Thursday.

“The female patients were shifted to the haematology ward and other parts of the hospital,” said a doctor of the ward.

With the pharmacy store where the fire broke out on Wednesday gutted, patients had to wait in a long queue to collect medicines from the operational pharmacies on Thursday.

“We are procuring medicines from the fair price medicine shop on the hospital premises. Since the counters at the pharmacy unit could not be operated, patients and their relatives were asked to collect medicines from the counters on the second floor of the out patients’ department building,” a hospital official said.

Rehana Laskar, 10, from Canning in South 24-Parganas, had been waiting for over two hours in the queue with her mother when Metro met her. The girl has a low haemoglobin count and has been prescribed medicines by a doctor in the OPD.

Shyam Shundar Bagui reached the hospital from Siakhala in Hooghly around 6.30am. At 3pm, he was standing in queue to collect medicines. “I have a block in my heart. I come here once a month for a check-up and to collect medicines. I have been waiting in the queue for over two hours,” he said.

Forensic experts visited the burnt pharmacy on Thursday and collected samples. “These will be sent to the laboratory to ascertain the cause of the fire,” said Wasim Raja, forensic expert.

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