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RFMF Soldiers Tell Of Dash To Help Patients In Lautoka Hospital

Two Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) personnel gave an account of the Tuesday morning fire when they helped evacuate some 157 Lautoka Hospital patients to safety. Private Lorima Tabaka
07 Dec 2017 11:02
RFMF Soldiers Tell Of Dash To Help Patients In Lautoka Hospital
From left: Corporal Isoa Ranitu, Private Timoci Navoka, Private Aporosa Tematema, Private Orisi Duilomaloma and Private Lorima Tabaka at the military base in Lautoka on December 6, 2017. Photo: Lusiana Banuve

Two Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) personnel gave an account of the Tuesday morning fire when they helped evacuate some 157 Lautoka Hospital patients to safety.

Private Lorima Tabaka said that he could still smell that faint odour from patients as he carried them to the parking lot after a fire broke out in the operating theatre.

He was part of the RFMF team, Police, Fiji Corrections Service and the public who assisted hospital staff members evacuate.

Private Tabaka said that they were at their Waiyavi base. They received a call from the hospital operator about the fire and they rushed to the scene within minutes.

“We practically dashed up the stairs when we arrived at the scene. People were already being lined on the carpark area. We just ran up and started helping patients who were waiting.

“Some still had tubes for drips attached to their arms and as soon as the nurses gave us the okay to move them, we hauled some on our backs, some rode piggy back and we just brought them down as fast and as safely as we could.”

“I was worried that if the power went out and we were stuck in the lift, we wouldn’t be able to get out because we didn’t know if there was any electricians around, or if we would have time to look for instructions on how to open the lift.”

Everything, he said was done in a seamless and fast process. Corporal Isoa Ranitu said: “That fire could have been worse.

But the quick-thinking of the hospital staff and the co-ordinated efforts of the Police, the Fire Services, the Corrections department and the military allowed operations to be carried out smoothly and efficitently.”

Specialist outpatient services opens today
The Ministry of Health and Medical Services said they were continuing their efforts to maintain services following Tuesday’s fire. A team from the ministry head office has been working alongside local management to ensure that there are adequate supplies of essential items.

Additional oxygen cylinders and associated equipment have been transferred from Suva to replace the piped supply which is currently unavailable and negotiations are under way to arrange access to alternative, local X-ray services while repairs are carried out at Lautoka Hospital.

Senior managers at Lautoka Hospital are meeting regularly to assess services and deal with any issues of concern. A number of areas of the hospital have been damaged by the fire itself and also by water used for firefighting.

Checks on those areas are expected to be carried out yesterday and, based on the results of those checks, it will be possible to prepare plans for gradual restoration of the full range of services. Ensuring the safety of patients and staff will be the top priority at all times. Currently it is expected that specialist outpatient services will begin operating again today for patients with appointments. General outpatient services remain suspended until further notice and patients should continue to use nearby Health Centres which will remain open until 10pm.

A special 24-hour telephone helpline has been set up and patients or other members of the public who require information on the availability of services at Lautoka Hospital should call 623 0700 (normal call charges apply).

The ministry apologises for any inconvenience caused by this unfortunate incident and thanks the Lautoka community for their support and understanding. The hard work and dedication of managers, doctors, nurses and all other staff at Lautoka Hospital are also greatly appreciated.

Edited by Ranoba Baoa

Feedback:  lusiana.banuve@fijisun.com.fj



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