Hospital Fire in India Offers Lessons in Personnel Management
By Allison G. S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest
When disasters occur, it is important for emergency managers to review the events leading up to the disaster to understand how and why it occurred.
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The 2011 hospital fire in Kolkata, India, serves as a lesson in understanding how policy and administration are directly tied to emergencies of this magnitude. Because of emergencies like the AMRI Hospital fire, we can work to tighten emergency management efforts and prevent tragedies like this from recurring.
Administrations Must Enforce Fire Prevention Policies
In the United States, there are numerous policies that buildings and organizations must follow to prevent fires. Most businesses follow them and many fires are avoided. While a policy to prevent a fire may be in place, there must be an administration to enforce the policy.
Residential fires occur on a fairly regular basis in the United States. However, hospital fires and fatalities are rare in the United States, according to the United States Fire Administration, which collects data on hospital fires.
AMRI Hospital Fire
This unfortunately was not the case in India when 89 people were killed during a hospital fire in 2011. It was reported that AMRI Hospital staff, knowing there was a fire, fled the building leaving patients -- many of whom were immobile -- to fend for themselves.
Illegal Storage of Hazardous Materials and Administrative Failures Caused AMRI Hospital Fire
According to India’s NDTV, illegal storage of hazardous materials caused the AMRI Hospital fire. That indicates that the managers and staff were not adequately trained to store hazardous materials. While officials were unable to pinpoint the exact cause of the fire, it is important to note that somewhere along the line there was an administrative failure and lives were lost.
It’s likely that a number of different things that came together to cause such a massively tragic disaster, including administrative failures. Social scientists have examined why administrative failures are often at the center of such disasters. Ultimately, any jurisdiction should regularly evaluate the communications between staff and managers, and make sure that proper policies are being followed.
Shortcuts can snowball into larger problems, and managers need to thoroughly review whether their staffs are taking all proper measures in their work.