In panic, nurses at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital frantically wheeled newborn babies out of a ward bellowing with thick smoke as now-viral videos show how a near-fire disaster that would have claimed the lives of dozens of babies was averted at the premier hospital today.
The incident happened on Tuesday night as a staff captured the incident on his mobile phone. Desperate nurses and workers at the maternity unit were frantically evacuating the newborn babies as they screamed for the fire service amidst a thick cloud of smoke.
“We need a fire service now right here at Korle-Bu. The fire here so we have to evacuate the babies now. I am begging you if anybody can come to our aid, we called the Fire Service but they are still not here…Please, please, we are evacuating the babies now. Somebody should come to our aid now,” the voice of the terrified amateur videographer at Korle-Bu maternity unit pleaded.
Even as he pleads for help, nurses were wheeling the babies in their hospital cots away from the smoke.
Surprisingly, when the video went viral, the Public Relations Unit of the hospital, dismissed the scare, saying it was a simple “spark” from an aircondition plug in the hospital.
“The Maternity Block of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) is not on fire as being alleged on social media. What happened was an air-conditioner switch in one of the restrooms of the doctors started emitting smoke which was detected by staff on duty at around 9 pm yesterday,” said Mustapha Salifu, the Head of PR at Korle Bu in a statement released today.
“The staff on duty quickly used fire extinguishers to put out the fire before the arrival of the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS). As a precautionary measure, some of the babies were moved to another wing of the same floor.”
Curiously, the statement in one breath said the incident was merely smoke emitted by a faulty air-condition plug, yet in the very next paragraph, the statement explained that staff on duty had to use fire extinguishers to “put out the fire” before the GNFS came in.
Critics have pointed out an unfortunate attempt at a cover-up by the Korle-Bu PR department by the discrepant explanation of the event on Tuesday night.
Korle-Bu is notorious for its poor management and consequent neglect of the maternity ward of the hospital which has become synonymous with overcrowding and downright neglect.
Meanwhile, it is barely five months since a fire outbreak at the same hospital drew staff and patients into a state of panic.
On November 30, 2020, the premier hospital recorded a fire incident at its Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
It took the timely intervention of overburdened staff to save three COVID-19 patients from burning into ashes from that fire incident.
In the early hours of Monday, November 30, 2020, fire gutted the ICU as a result of an electrical fault from a socket in the ward, forcing the COVID-19 patients to be evacuated to another hospital.
The same Mustapha Salifu issued a similar generic statement saying all necessary steps were taken to avert disaster.
It appears that it is just a matter of time that electricals will spark another fire scare at Korle-Bu. Nobody can predict what the outcome might be.