Ambulance catches fire in Malaysia as hospital safety precautions come under scrutiny

Firemen putting out the flames that had engulfed the ambulance.
Firemen putting out the flames that had engulfed the ambulance. PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

IPOH (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - An ambulance carrying four hospital staff members caught fire in Kuala Kangsar, about 50km from Ipoh.

During the incident at 8.59pm on Wednesday (Oct 26), the blaze destroyed 80 per cent of the vehicle after the fire spread from the front to the cabin of the ambulance. No one was injured.

The incident took place as safety precautions at hospitals in Malaysia came under scrutiny after a fire broke out at the Sultanah Aminah Hospital (HSA) in Johor Baru on Tuesday. Six patients in the intensive care unit were killed.

 
 

A second fire broke out in the hospital on Wednesday in the operation theatre in its emergency and trauma ward. The blaze was small and was quickly contained. 

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said a fire audit will be carried out on all hospitals in Malaysia under the Health Ministry, starting with the oldest and those at high risk.  This was necessary to prevent incidents like Tuesday's blaze at HSA, he said.  

 

"The hospitals and concessionaires have to set up a committee to look at how to manage a fire if it happens. And that includes an evacuation plan."

Each hospital could draw up its own mechanism but the principle was already outlined in existing guidelines, he told reporters at the Parliament lobby on Wednesday.

He said the ministry would also check for any differences in fire safety practices between public and private hospitals. Improvements would be made where necessary, he added.

Dr Subramaniam acknowledged that there had been many requests from public hospitals to upgrade medical equipment and facilities but no requests were made concerning infrastructure.