Posted January. 29, 2018 08:32,
Updated January. 29, 2018 08:53
In the emergency room on the first floor, where the fire is thought to have started at Sejong Hospital in the southeastern city of Miryang, was a doctor on duty. The doctor desperately tried to put out the raging fire with a fire extinguisher until he died in the deadly blaze. He was a doctor working at another hospital, but on duty as a part-timer that day. Nevertheless, he did not leave his patients behind. There was a dementia ward on the fifth floor where elderly patients were being treated, but no casualties were reported from the ward. A nurse assistant handed out towels to the patients to cover their mouth and safely evacuate them. She inhaled too much smoke and had to be hospitalized shortly after being rescued. The country’s worst fire disaster in a decade killed 38 and injured 151 people, but the death toll could have been higher without the acts of medical staff, who risked or lost their lives to rescue the patients.
At the time of crisis, ordinary citizens were a great help to rescue team. The hospital and nearby streets were blanketed with thick smoke, flames and the smell of toxic smoke. Many witnesses stopped their way to help people screaming for help from the windows. They helped firefighters with the ladder to safely evacuate patients climbing out of the building. Some gave their coats to warm patients dressed in hospital gown in the bitter cold. Residents came out with their blankets and hot packs. Families and relatives who came to the hospital at the news, also rushed to evacuate patients. Ordinary citizens ran to lend their help without hesitation to help those in need.
The whole city of Miryang, a small town where there are only about 20 places to set up a memorial altar, is deeply saddened by the country’s deadliest fire. The whole country is in deep sorrow as the latest disaster came only a month after a blaze that killed 20 people at a fitness center in Jecheon, North Chungcheong Province. The fire disaster has exposed serious shortcomings in the country’s fire safety standards and supervision. Safety issues were raised again including the fire door that will withstand the heat and the exit door. At least, the heroic acts of medical staff who did their best to the last minute and ordinary citizens who gave a helping hand give hope. This spirit of citizenship is the bedrock of modern society. A strong sense of community demonstrated in crisis and pain will be the key to a safer Korea.