Home Emergency Management News Hospital Fire in India Offers Lessons in Personnel Management
Hospital Fire in India Offers Lessons in Personnel Management

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.

Start an Emergency & Disaster Management degree at American Military University.

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.

Allison G. S. Knox Passionate about the issues affecting ambulances and disaster management, Allison focuses on Emergency Management and Emergency Medical Services policy. Allison has taught at the undergraduate level since 2010. Prior to teaching, she worked in a level-one trauma center emergency department and for a member of Congress in Washington, D.C. She holds four master’s degrees in Emergency Management, National Security Studies, International Relations, and History; a Graduate Certificate in Homeland Security; and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Allison is an Emergency Medical Technician, Lifeguard, and Lifeguard Instructor, and is trained in Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue. She serves on the Board of Trustees for Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society as Chancellor of the Southeast Region, Vice Chair of the Tactical Emergency Medical Support Committee with the International Public Safety Association, and serves as the Advocacy Coordinator of Virginia with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. She is also a member of several committees including the Editorial Committee with APCO, the Rescue Task Force Committee with the International Public Safety Association, and the Advocacy Committee with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. She also serves as Chair of the Leadership Development Program for the 2020 Pi Gamma Mu Triennial Convention. Allison has published several book reviews and continues to write about issues affecting ambulances, emergency management, and homeland security.