Tše­pong holds fire emer­gency drill

Lesotho Times - - News - Pas­cali­nah Kabi

WITH an anx­ious ex­pres­sion on his face, a Na­tional Health Train­ing Col­lege (NHTC) male stu­dent yes­ter­day ran around fran­ti­cally yelling: “Fire, fire, please help!”

It looked real, sounded real, and even felt real, with 130 stu­dents who were “trapped” in the in­sti­tute’s din­ing hall seem­ingly fight­ing to es­cape from the in­ferno. How­ever, it was all sim­u­lated to en­sure hos­pi­tal and emer­gency staff knew what to do in case of a real emer­gency.

Co­or­di­nated by Queen ‘ Mamo­hato Me­mo­rial Hos­pi­tal staff, which is pop­u­larly known as Tše­pong, the emer­gency pre­pared­ness ex­er­cise also in­volved the Le­sotho De­fense Force (LDF) and Le­sotho Mounted Po­lice Ser­vice (LMPS) fire bri­gades.

Upon hear­ing the stu­dents’ cries for help, mem­bers of the LDF and LMPS fire bri­gades rushed to the scene to put out the fire and take the grate­ful learn­ers to safety.

Of the 130 stu­dents, 10 “died” in the in­ferno and trans­ported to a makeshift mor­tu­ary at the hos­pi­tal, while 20 were “se­ri­ously in­jured” and fer­ried to the hos­pi­tal by am­bu­lances. Seventy sus­tained “in­juries” but were still able to walk

The head of Tše­pong’s emer­gency medicine depart­ment, Dr Les­ley Bhebhe, said the pur­pose of the drill was to pre­pare the hos­pi­tal’s staff for dis­as­ters such as fire so they are bet­ter able to pro­tect lives and prop­erty, in­crease emer­gency pre­pared­ness and re­duce re­sponse time.

“The whole pur­pose of this ex­er­cise was to pre­pare not only the hos­pi­tal staff, but other stake­hold­ers like the LDF and LMPS for ma­jor in­ci­dents,” Dr Bhebhe said.

“It was meant to give the var­i­ous de­part­ments ex­pe­ri­ence in how to deal with such a sit­u­a­tion and the pre­cau­tions to be taken in case of a fire.”

He said the stu­dents were told to stay as calm as pos­si­ble be­fore the drill started, with the army and po­lice bri­gades sup­posed to act im­me­di­ately af­ter the cry for help. Dr Bhebhe said af­ter the “vic­tims” res­cue, paramedics and other health per­son­nel took over and trans­ported the in­jured to the hos­pi­tal.

“Af­ter call­ing for help, the stu­dents were evac­u­ated and at­tended to based on their in­juries. Some of them were badly in­jured, with some sus­tain­ing mi­nor in­juries while other had no in­juries at all,” said Dr Bhebhe.

“How­ever, if any of the par­tic­i­pants were gen­uinely in­jured, we would have aborted the whole ex­er­cise since we wanted the drill to be an ed­u­ca­tional ex­er­cise free of in­juries.”

The LDF’S Lieu­tenant Bataung Khati also told this pa­per that the ex­er­cise had helped his unit to eval­u­ate their strengths and weak­nesses.

“This has been a good ex­pe­ri­ence for us as the LDF be­cause we are now in a good po­si­tion to ad­dress the ar­eas of con­cern we iden­ti­fied,” Lieu­tenant Khati said.

On his part, In­spec­tor Lelin­goana Sechache of the po­lice’s Fire and Res­cue depart­ment im­plored mem- bers of the pub­lic to avoid over­load­ing adap­tors which cause many elec­tri­cal faults and, in turn, fires.

“If the adapter has only five sock­ets, use those five sock­ets only and don’t con­nect mal­func­tion­ing gad­gets since they in­crease the chance of a fire out­break,” In­spec­tor Sechache said.

NHTC stu­dent, Makoae Mosothoane, who “died” dur­ing the fire drill, said the ex­er­cise had equipped them with in­valu­able skills.

“I learnt that it was im­por­tant to im­me­di­ately call for help in the event of a fire, and to stay in one place to avoid con­fus­ing po­ten­tial res­cuers,” Mosothoane said.

In her post mortem of the fire drill, Tše­pong Pub­lic Re­la­tions Of­fi­cer Dr Lim­pho Seeiso de­scribed the ex­er­cise as an “over­all suc­cess”.

“We were able to test the hos­pi­tal’s level of pre­pared­ness and re­spon­sive­ness to a ma­jor in­ci­dent on short no­tice and with lim­ited re­sources,” Dr Seeiso said.

“It is now up to each team to at­tend to ar­eas need­ing im­prove­ment. It is through prac­tice and ex­pe­ri­en­tial learn­ing that we will be able to han­dle real ac­ci­dents and pre­vent un­nec­es­sary loss of life.”

The par­tic­i­pants said they hoped they would never have to put the train­ing into use. How­ever, if they do, they now know that they are pre­pared.

ARMY and po­lice fire bri­gades at­tend to some of the ‘vic­tims’ dur­ing the emer­gency pre­pared­ness ex­er­cise.

A ‘SE­RI­OUSLY in­jured’ pa­tient re­ceives med­i­cal at­ten­tion yes­ter­day.

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