Patients share stories of hospital evacuation

ROBERT Lamb had difficulty sleeping at Gladstone Mater Hospital on Monday night after having his hip replaced.

"The blood pressure machine was bleeping all night and kept me awake," he said.

But that was nothing like the reason he had another sleepless night on Tuesday.

All nine patients at the hospital were evacuated soon after midnight when an air conditioning unit seized and sent smoke billowing through the hospital's general ward.

"I heard this beeping again, and I thought 'here we go again'. I didn't realise at that time that it was a fire alarm," Mr Lamb said.

"Next thing I knew I was being pushed out the door in a wheelchair, and we all ended up over at the base (hospital).

"I'd left in such a hurry that I didn't have my glasses or my phone, but one of the nurses went back and got them for me."

But Mr Lamb had nothing but praise for the efficiency and smoothness of the evacuation.

Mater Hospital general manager Deb Wright said a bearing had seized in the air conditioning compressor, which eventually shredded a drive belt, and the resultant smoke billowed through the general ward through the air conditioning ducts.

Emergency services were called and the majority of the patients were transported between hospitals in ambulances.

However, Mr Lamb, who was in a different area of the hospital at the time, was pushed in his wheelchair by a firefighter.

One patient, who was in labour at the Mater Hospital, delivered her baby at the Gladstone Hospital.

All patients were back at the Mater by 8.30am.

The air conditioning unit was fully operational again by noon yesterday.



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