Quick-thinking staff at Walsall Manor Hospital have been praised for saving a man’s life and putting out a fire in a side room – while reassuring other patients and stopping the blaze spreading to other areas.
Ward 17 Manager Michelle Crutchley and Sister Michelle Williams sprang into action when a patient with mental health issues barricaded himself into a side room and set fire to clothes which quickly spread to a chair and his bed.
In a stroke of luck Michelle Crutchley had only done a fire training course at Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust the day before so immediately knew the correct type of fire extinguisher to use.
She explained: “The fire was started around 7am and I think both Michelle and I just went into coping mode – helped by some of our other fantastic colleagues. Our Sister Dicelyn Gante managed to get through the barricaded door, cut the patient free from his drip and drag him to safety while Michelle and I fought the fire. The flames were high; the ceiling lights were buckling in the heat and there was a lot of smoke.
“I’d only been on a fire training course the day before so it goes to show how important it is to know what type of extinguisher to use and how to react according to the type of fire.”
Michelle Williams said: “We used three fire extinguishers while the rest of the ward staff made sure the other patients were reassured and calmed. We’re a respiratory ward so you can imagine the effect that smoke would have had on our patients.
“While Michelle and I put out the fire it was a real team effort and our student nurse was also really helpful and our housekeeping staff who later cleaned the room up and got it back into use also worked really hard.”
Both carried on working their shift but admitted that the shock of what had happened did hit them a while later.
Michelle Crutchley said: “Since then every time we hear a fire alarm it does bring it all back to us.”
West Midlands Fire service commended their actions and said the fire could have potentially resulted in the death of the patient. It could also have spread to the rest of the ward if they hadn’t acted so quickly.
Wendy Lear, Walsall Healthcare’s Divisional Director of Nursing for Medicine, said: “As the fire service said, this could have been an even more serious incident resulting in harm to a number of patients if it hadn’t been for the Michelles’ prompt actions. They are a credit to our Trust and we are proud to have them working with us in Walsall.”