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

 

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Savvy Media Ltd: Media Sales executive - Crawley

£25k + commission + benefits: Savvy Media Ltd: Find a job you love and never h...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Solicitor NQ+ Oxford

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CORPORATE - Corporate Solicitor NQ+ An excelle...

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible