Head of GPHC Burns Unit recalls air-dashing of critically injured Mahdia School fire victims at COI hearing

Head of GPHC Burns Unit recalls air-dashing of critically injured Mahdia School fire victims at COI hearing

The last child that succumbed to injuries sustained in the Mahdia School Dorm fire in May, was among the first three patients to be air-dashed from Mahdia to Georgetown, the Commission of Inquiry (COI) heard today.

Head of the General Surgery Unit and Burns and Plastic Surgery Unit at the Georgetown Public Hospital, Dr Shilinldra Rajkumar told the Commission that based on reports submitted the 13-year-old child was in a critical state she was flown out from the area.

“The three patients that came out on that very first flight, one of the patients was already comatose and for all of our examinations since we got her, she was not reacting. The history suggested that during the transit, she had three cardiac arrests that she had to be resuscitated, and the other two patients, had burns to face and hands as well,” Dr Rajkumar said when he took the stand this morning.

The 13-year-old victim was admitted into the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the Georgetown Public Hospital, while the other two were admitted to the Pediatric High Dependency Unit (HDU).

The 13-old never regained consciousness and succumbed days later despite the best efforts of the doctors at the hospital.

Dr Kumar said he traveled to Mahdia early on the morning of the fire, and assessed more than 20 victims of the fire.

It was his assessment that led to the evacuation of another three patients, who were all in a critical condition.

Dr Rajkumar explained that upon his arrival at the Mahdia District Hospital, he was asked by the Regional Health Officer, Dr Ravindra Dudhnauth, to assess 20 of the victims, who were in the facility at the time.

It was explained that six of the girls were in a treatment area while one with burns about her body laid in a room by herself. The other girls, he noted, were in a restroom used by doctors and nurses.

“The ones in the treatment area in front, the six, they were the ones that had minor burns. They had burns to their face and hands. In that room, there was one patient that had an altered state of consciousness. She was not responding. In the separate room, there was a child with about 30% burn – she was by herself – but in the separate room, where they had about 10-12 young ladies with two and three sharing a bed, those girls were not injured in anyway,” he detailed.

Dr Rajkumar said the girl who had an altered state of consciousness or was not fully conscious, had suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning and was at risk of slipping into a coma.

“We suspected that her condition was due to carbon monoxide poisoning. Based on the history of her being exposed to smoke, and she had to inhale burnt materials that was coming in the fire; and she did not have any significant burn to render her in that state,” he explained.

He went on to explain the efforts to get more children air-dashed to the city and the preparation at the Georgetown Hospital to accommodate the emergency cases.

19 children lost their lives in the blaze, with the 20th victim passing away in the hospital a few days later.

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