From “A Hospital’s Safety Lessons”
Security Management (10/16) Abdulaziz Al Essa, Ibrahim. Printed by ASIS.
A deadly fire that broke out at Jazan General Hospital in Saudi Arabia last December has been attributed to negligence by hospital and Ministry of Health officials as well as poor design and implementation of the building. The fire, which killed 25 people and injured 124, was caused by an electrical short circuit on the first floor of the hospital. Hospital staff members were able to evacuate all patients on the first floor, but the resulting smoke density and escalation to the hospital’s upper floors caused deaths due to asphyxiation. Defects in the building’s fire isolation and alarm system and faulty oxygen extension pipes also facilitated the fire’s spread. The Ministry indicated that the hospital staff’s lack of security and safety training led to an increase in deaths and injuries during the evacuation process. The hospital did not have an incident command team, mechanisms to control emergency exits, or fire extinguishing systems. The evacuation process was further hampered by cars and bystanders congesting the area outside the hospital. Hospital officials ignored the warnings of the Saudi Arabia Civil Defense Agency prior to the facility’s opening in 2009, including concerns that the contractor hired to construct the building committed several engineering errors.