Timely intervention by residents staying in neighbouring areas helped save the lives of people admitted at the Prime Criticare hospital in Mumbra. Minutes after the fire broke out, local residents launched their own rescue attempt rather than wait for the Fire Brigade to arrive at the spot. Locals broke open the grill and windows at the rear of the hospital and rescued several patients.
Advocate Farhaan Ansari, a resident of Zahoor chawl, said, “I had woken up early for Sahoor as it is the month of Ramzan, to keep my fast. At 3.40 am, I saw smoke at the top of Hasnain building in which the hospital is located. I woke up my brother and we rushed to towards Hasnain Building to help.”
Other residents had also started gathering by then and they realised that the fire had started spreading across the hospital.
Another resident, Naved Shaikh, said, “We peeked inside to check on the patients, when we saw that there were many admitted in the ICU and general wards. And we could also see that the people were struggling to breathe and had started coughing as the smoke was taking over the wards, so we decided to do something by ourselves and not wait for the Fire Brigade.”
The residents went to the rear side and decided to break the windows and grills covering them, so the patients could quickly come out. The residents got an iron rod and broke open the grill and the glass windows.
“We just broke open the grill from one side, made a way and held the grill to one side and allowed the patients inside to come out,” said Farooq Mohamed Shaikh, who stays behind the hospital.
Sayad Rehan, a 50-year-old man who worked in an insurance company, was admitted in the ICU ward on the ground floor on April 22 after he was diagnosed with pneumonia. He said that as the smoke took over the ICU ward, he could not breathe or see anything.
“We tried opening the main door to escape, but they were blocked due to the fire and smoke. I had given up hope when suddenly, neighbouring residents broke open the window and pulled me out,” said Rehan.
The patients were rushed to the nearby Bilal and Kalsekar hospitals in Mumbra. Of the 20 patients admitted in the hospital at the time of fire, 16 were evacuated from different exits with the help of local residents, fire officials and hospital authorities. But four patients could not survive and were declared dead while being shifting to another hospital.