When an Indian is reminded about the date – 26/11, all he can think of is terror, bomb blasts, attacks, death, blood, gore, disaster everything that could spoil the happiness of a human being. It is synonymous with one of the worst periods of our times when everyone across the nation especially Mumbai and the Taj had to go through hours of hell. On the other hand, the AMRI hospital tragedy today at Kolkata is another addition to the growing list of incidents which makes you think that human life in this country has no value at all.
But why am I linking the two incidents as different as chalk and cheese? An incident which was the result of a terrorist attack and another which was due to a fire can be related? Am I out of my mind? Is it my opinionated mind at work? Whatever you think, there is a small similarity but a small difference!!
The attack on the Taj hotel was an attack on the heart of the country. It was an attack where death saw you on the face as terrorist after terrorist opened fire on innocent lives. In such a situation, all the employees of the Taj did what they were taught – The guest’s life and security comes above everything else. In such a scenario be it at the Wasabi restaurant or other parts of the hotel, the employees ensured that they got as many people to safety as they could. Karambir Singh Kang, the General Manager managed to save his guests but the same couldn’t be said about his own family.
A joint venture between Emami and Shrachi groups, the AMRI hospital has 6 branches in West Bengal and another 6 in Bangladesh. There are so many of us who keep cribbing about the fact the government doesn’t know how to run hospitals. So obviously with two groups involved, you would expect a private hospital to be really well run. Right?
But then with more than 80 people dying, fire safety equipment reportedly not working, guards not letting relatives in despite knowing that the fire was spreading thick and fast, the administration informing the fire engines hours after the fire started, things surely don’t seem to be right, do they? There are reports that 2 nurses died (PK Vineetha and Ramya Rajan) and the Hindu newspaper article says that they saved 9 patients themselves. Kudos to them that they had the guts to do something right when the entire administration apparatus crumbled in spectacular fashion!!
But then the good part ends there. There are complaints that patients who couldn’t move, stand etc. weren’t helped. There are complaints that the authorities were telling the patients that its a minor fire. There are complaints that the doctors switched off their mobile phones and ran away. A rumour hungry media spreading false rumours when the top 6 honchos of the hospital itself have courted arrest? And then despite being reminded zillions of times that highly flammable materials need to be removed from the area meant for the car park, they bought more time and the end result was disaster.
The Taj employees and the administration knew that death wasn’t slow. It was straight in your face. They didn’t even have any time to react. They had to think on the spot and come up with a solution to save the lives of their guests. And they did it much more effectively than anyone could imagine. One of the highlights was the fact that they formed a chain of human shields to guard their guests.The end result – just 31 people lost their lives and 28 were injured.
At the AMRI hospital, death was slowly coming in the sense that there were hours on end for people to be rescued. It wasn’t as if the fire spread immediately. Some say it started at 2am while others say it started at 1am. The fact is that fire engines were called an hour or so later. So what was happening in between? Why did half of the patients die in the entire hospital? (more than 80 out of 160).
At the Taj, the employees were taught that they were ambassadors of the company and also that the customer was their everything. But sadly at AMRI hospital, it seems as though the safety of their patients was the last thing on their minds.
Similar incidents but different reactions! That’s why one would say there’s such a world of difference in terms of patient (customer) care between the healthcare industry and the hotel industry!
Last word – One of my friends just said asked me how can I quantify human life by saying why only 2 nurses died at AMRI and it was the mistake of higher ups and how can I compare two tragedies like these.
My only point is where were the doctors when the entire thing was going on? And it can never be a mistake of few people but like in a team, each and every member is equally responsible. And the fact is that if such training to save people in emergency situations is given only in the hospitality industry or aircrashes etc, then its outrageous. How can you not train your personnel in a hospital to protect your patients in emergencies??? :O
Some people ask how can I compare the hospitality industry which caters to the elite to the healthcare industry which caters to the masses. The point here is not whose catered but whose actually taught what they should be.
And I daresay not, the 80 odd souls will be forgotten in history in a couple of days and things would continue as they have been over the years.