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Psychiatric Hospital Fire Raises Serious Questions

Posted in: Error management, Man Made Disasters, Safety Started by

Psychiatric Hospital Fire Raises Serious Questions

Ramensky, a small town North of Moscow has lost 38 lives to fire in a psychiatric hospital on 26 April 2013. To me as a safety guy with a heart, this is a very disturbing incident. It appears, it was a disaster waiting to happen.

In summer, Ramensky is very accessible. However in winter, the ferry that links Moscow to the area does not operate. As a result, fire service arrived after an hour. By then, it was too late. What was savable, became un-savageable. It appears that because it was night, most of the patients were sedated so they could sleep- and hence died from smoke inhalation.
It begs many questions: Were there evacuation plans in place for this facility? One nurse and two patients survived! How did they?

Who did what? How could only 3 people survive?
Who is to blame? Is this a case of non-feasance?
Are public authorities liable? Who is accountable by Russian law?
Are there guidelines for location such facilities? Are such facilities inspected for fire safety?

Lessons for us:
Based on my experience facilities such as manufacturing, hospitality, school, penitentiary, retirement homes must fulfill specific requirements for setting up and running. Now, I don’t know what happens in Russia, howerver, I do believe they should have similar standards in the management of highly vulnerable population groups.