The Irish Association for Emergency Medicine (IAEM) has praised staff and members of the emergency services for their efforts during the recent fire at Wexford General Hospital (WGH). The incident showed the importance of fire training and evacuation plans according to the IAEM.
In a statement the Association said it was “remarkable, and worth celebrating” that the hospital was “safely evacuated of over 200 inpatients without loss of life or injury to patients”.
The Association noted the difficulty of having to safely move patients, “some ventilated, some confused and unable to help in their own evacuation”.
“The fact that this was done in a safe, efficient and pre-planned way is a tribute to the staff involved, the effectiveness of the hospital’s fire plan and the prior training undertaken by the staff of WGH.”
The IAEM said the fire “brought out the best” in the emergency services and the incident highlighted the importance of fire training.
“In the permanently pressurised acute hospital environment with emergency departments often lodging scores of hospital inpatients and additional patients on wards being the new norm, activities such as fire training and exercising a hospital’s fire evacuation plan are easy targets to be long-fingered,” the IAEM said in its statement.
“Thankfully this short- sightedness was not the case in Wexford and the patients and staff that were in the hospital at the time of the fire have been the beneficiaries of this prudent approach to dealing with such an infrequent but potentially lethal event.
“It is important that the Department of Health and HSE prioritise the creation of the necessary acute bed capacity so that a fire in another hospital doesn’t lead to the tragedy Wexford could so easily have been.”