Let me ask you this: 'What is it like to be in a fire?'


It is singularly the most terrifying and adrenaline-pumping experience I have ever had. That much is to be expected, but add to whatever you're imagining the fact that I was a young nurse and was trying to help women give birth at the time that I realised my hospital was becoming enveloped in smoke.

In 1979, I was working as a new nurse in a small hospital in southern Oklahoma. I worked in Labour and Delivery, the department of hospitals responsible for delivering new-born babies. We were very busy that night.

A woman had just had her baby. The baby was stable and the doctor was finishing the last few stitches. I opened the door and was met with a column of black smoke. I quickly shut the door, walked over to the doctor and whispered, "Something in the hallway is on fire".

It was just the doctor, me, a nursery nurse, the mum, the dad, and the baby in the room. The doctor quickly told them the news. He said, "We have a problem. There is a lot of smoke in the hall. I don't know if there is an electrical problem or what, but we have to get out of here."

We used the sterile water in the cabinet to soak the towels and got everyone's faces wrapped. We walked out into the smoke and within a few steps were able to see that it was billowing out of the laundry shoot. We took the mum to the waiting room and went to a phone to call it in. The phones were dead.

Our unit was full of patients and there were only two nurses and two nurse aides working. This was for two active labour patients, 10 new mums and two babies. I checked the labour patient. She was now nine centimetres and wanting to push. I told her husband that we were going to have to get her out of there. By now, the smoke was coming around the doors.

I told the aide in the nursery to give all the babies to their mothers, immediately. We were going to make it down four flights of stairs and run across the street to our competitor hospital.

We got over to this hospital. The baby was delivered. The mum was taken to a bed there, and that hospital's staff took over her care. The doctor and I ran back to the parking lot to our other patients.

By now, the rest of the hospital was beginning evacuation. Luckily, all of our mums and babies were very stable. They all chose to call family and go home.

Later, it was discovered that this was arson. The arsonist had set fire to the fire alarm control panel a week before the fire he set on this day. When he started the devastating fire, he first disabled the phones. We never found out who the arsonist was. I say "he" but we don't even know that.

Kathy Hurst Davis, mum & nurse

These answers all come from quora.com, the popular online Q&A service. Ask any question and get real answers from people in the know


Arts and Entertainment
Game Of Thrones
Uh-oh, winter is coming. Ouch, my eyes! Ygritte’s a goner. Lysa’s a goner. Tywin’s a goner. Look, a dragon
tvSpoiler warning: The British actor says viewers have 'not seen the last' of his character
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Esteban Cambiasso makes it 3-3
premier league
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
The Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City
premier leaguePlus updates from Everton vs Palace
people'I hated him during those times'
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Heskey's aim has improved since the end of his English football career

Long after his career in English football has ended, Emile Heskey's impotency in front of goal remains an object of ridicule.

Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
peopleFirst memoir extracts show she 'felt pressured' into going out with the Sex Pistols manager
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late
Lewis Hamilton in action during the Singapore Grand Prix
Formula OneNico Rosberg retires after 14 laps
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam