| Azaraimy HH & Izah Azahari |
HUNDREDS of patients and visitors were evacuated at the Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital yesterday when a fire broke out at around 7.50am at the Cardiology Centre of the Outpatient Services Department.
No casualties or injuries were reported.
The fire forced the hospital to temporarily relocate some of its services and cancel doctor’s appointments, the Ministry of Health (MoH) said.
The MoH said all services of the Outpatient Services Department will operate as usual today (October 14), except for the Cardiology and Diabetes Centres.
The two centres were the worst hit in the fire. Primary services of these two centres will operate as usual but outpatient services of the two centres will commence on October 15 (tomorrow) in a yet to be announced area. The MoH asked the public to follow the instructions from personnel on duty and be patient due to the inconvenience caused by the fire.
Eyewitnesses first saw smoke coming from the roof of the Cardiology Centre and heard a loud bang.
A man, who identified himself only as Awang Aji, said the hospital area became busier yesterday morning as people were asked to leave in an orderly manner as the smoke engulfed the area.
The commotion caused a traffic jam and temporarily halted the bus shuttle service from the car park at Jame’ ‘Asr Hassanil Bolkiah mosque to the hospital.
Another eyewitness Jacky Liew said she had to walk to the car park after hearing that the bus shuttle had temporarily stopped.
The Fire and Rescue Department was alerted at 7.54am and its firefighters arrived at the scene at about 8am. In a press release, the MoH said, “Alhamdulillah with the blessing by Allah the Almighty and the quick response of RIPAS Hospital staff, Ministry of Health and cooperation by other government agencies, the Fire and Rescue Department, Royal Brunei Police Force and Department of Electrical Services and the public, the fire at the Cardiology Centre of Out-patient Services, Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha Hospital was put under control at 8.36am.
“The Specialist Block and all the in-patient or ward services are operating as usual. All patients in the wards are safe.”
The MoH said that all appointments at the Out-patient Services were cancelled yesterday and asked patients to call their respective clinics to set up a new date for their next appointment.
However, appointments at the Cardiology Centre were cancelled until further notice and the cardiology staff will contact their respective patients.
The hospital’s Accident and Emergency (A&E) Department was temporarily moved to the lobby 5 of the Ward Complex. Patients yesterday were advised to go to the nearest health centres for non-emergency cases.
Operations appeared to be running smoothly yesterday at the temporary site of the A&E Department.
A Bulletin journalist saw the hospital staff, paramedics, nurses and doctors busy at work in the lobby area.
Patients were dropped off near the hospital’s canteen as the roads leading to the lobby and emergency area were temporarily closed due to the fire.
One of the hospital staff said that the Out-patient Services had been moved to the Health Centre in Ong Sum Ping for the day.
According to a report from the Fire and Rescue Services Department, the fire, which affected 12 treatment rooms, was put out by firefighters in 32 minutes.
Seven fire engines rushed to the scene from four stations: BSB, Beribi, Berakas and Bomba Laut and Pelancaran Stations.
Following the incident, the department emphasised the importance of making fire prevention a priority in the workplace, to ensure the fire equipment are in working order and call for appointing fire marshals.