Ambulance blast kills day-old child in Santacruz

Child was kept in a ventilator and was being transferred to a paediatric facility in a cardiac ambulance, when a sudden fire caused 3 blasts; infant's father alleges negligence on hospital's part

An explosion in an allegedly ill-maintained ambulance killed a one-day old baby in Santacruz yesterday. The baby was being transferred to a paediatric hospital, when there was a sudden fire in the ambulance he was being carried in. Three simultaneous blasts in the ambulance resulted in the child’s death. While the parents have alleged negligence on the part of the hospital for sending a faulty ambulance, the Vartak Nagar Police has filed an Accidental Death Report (ADR) in the matter.

The cardiac ambulance, after the blasts that were supposedly caused due to a faulty oxygen cylinder
The cardiac ambulance, after the blasts that were supposedly caused due to a faulty oxygen cylinder

The incident took place at midnight. The day-old child was to be transferred to the Surya Child Care Hospital in Santacruz, since he had developed certain complications after birth. The parents of the child have claimed that the child was born perfectly healthy, but his health started deteriorating soon after. That’s when they decided to shift him to a specialised centre for better medical care.

Manish Jain, the deceased  child’s father
Manish Jain, the deceased child's father

The child was Bhiwandi businessman Manish Jain’s first baby. He was born through a cesarean delivery at Bhiwandi’s Gopinath Hospital. However, as his health deteriorated he was shifted to Vedanta Hospital immediately. The mother stayed at Gopinath Hospital. “The doctors at the (Vedanta) hospital were with the child 24/7. When his health worsened further, we decided to shift him to another hospital,” said Jain.

“The child was brought here after a complicated delivery, and we kept updating the parents about his condition. But, later at night the family said that they want to take the patient to another hospital. On their request, we allowed the discharge,” said Nagesh Kumar of Vedanta Hospital.

Meanwhile, one of Jain’s relatives made arrangements to transfer the child to Surya Child Care Hospital. A cardiac ambulance was then sent to Thane with one doctor and one nurse. “As we came down, the driver of the ambulance was present and the vehicle was locked,” said Jain. Once the driver returned, he unlocked the vehicle and turned on the ventilator support system of the ambulance. The nurse and the doctor who came along with the ambulance then took the child inside the ambulance. However, as Jain and one of his relatives were about to sit inside, the driver asked them to wait for two minutes.

Up in flames
Jain said that what followed is something that he had never imagined. Moments after the ventilator support was switched on, a fire broke out inside the ambulance. In no time, the entire ambulance was engulfed in the fire. As soon as this happened, both the doctor and the nurse jumped out of the vehicle, leaving the baby, still wearing the oxygen mask, behind.

Family members then tried to break windows of the vehicle to get the baby out, but the intensity of flames forced them to move away from the vehicle. “After that, there was one minor and two major blasts that completely destroyed the ambulance and even other ambulance standing besides it. The situation was such that we couldn’t do anything but stand there and stare at the ambulance covered in flames, with our child lying inside,” said Jain, fighting back his tears. The family said that the entire incident took place in a matter of minutes and they barely got time to do anything.

The nurse Rejo Chako (28) and Dr Bhuvandeep Garg (37) also sustained minor burn injuries and were rushed to Thane Civil Hospital. However, officials from the hospital said that both of them refused treatment and requested a DAMA (Discharge Against Medical Advice). They were later shifted to Surya Hospital overnight.

Cops say
Police officials from Vartak Nagar Police station are yet to file any case of negligence against Surya Hospital, which owns the ambulance, since they are still investigating the matter as well as waiting for a report of the fire officials to ascertain the exact cause of fire.

Jain alleged that his child died only due to the negligence of the Surya Hospital officials, who couldn’t even check if the ambulance was in a proper condition before giving it for an emergency. “I have lost my son and no matter what I do, he is not going to come back. Obviously, there was some problem with the system or the vehicle due to which it caught fire. I’ll request the police officials to investigate the matter and make sure that the people responsible for the death of my child pay for their negligence.” mid-day tried contacting Dr Bhupendra Avasthi, paediatrician and head of Surya Child Care Hospital, but he remained unavailable for comment.

Fire officials say
Speaking to mid-day, Station Officer and investigating officer of Wagle Estate Fire Station, Nitin Shinde said that the blast took place due to the faulty oxygen cylinder, which caught a spark and exploded right after it was switched on. “It takes only 16% of oxygen in the air to catch fire, here it was 100% pure oxygen. Prima facie it has come to light that the leaking cylinder caught a spark and exploded which was also the first blast of the three. The two subsequent blasts that took place were of the tires that burst due to pressure.” Shinde said that he would complete the investigation in a day or two and file the report.

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