Ambulance catches fire

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 22, 2003

After delivering a patient safely to Vaughn Regional Medical Center’s emergency room, an ambulance caught fire in the emergency entry bay.

The Selma Fire Department received the call at approximately 1:14 p.m. yesterday and responded by 1:16 p.m., but found hospital workers fighting the fire without them.

They stepped in and quickly finished the job, leaving just a little cleanup.

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According to Donnell Caffey, Director of Operations at Haynes Ambulance, the fire was noticed immediately after a patient was delivered.

The drivers, whose names haven’t been released, saw smoke coming from the hood of the van and reacted immediately.

Workers from hospital maintenance and radiology got involved immediately afterward.

Lionel Blakes, a radiologic technologist, said he was on a break when he saw the van catch fire. &uot;White, grey and black smoke started coming out from under the hood. We assisted the drivers. We tried to get the hood open, but it wasn’t coming open. We saturated the inside with the fire extingiusher.&uot;

Blakes got help from Steven Lisenby, a CT scan technician also working in radiology. He said, &uot;We smelled smoke coming in through the vent about like an electrical fire. Somebody said, ‘get a fire extinguisher.’ Smoke was billowing out the front end of the van. We sprayed the fire extinguisher, but to no avail.&uot;

Maintenance workers also joined the fray. Gregory Russell, one of them, said he and the radiology workers were the first on the scene.

He said, &uot;We’re just lucky we got the oxygen bottles off. It could’ve been bad if the fire had gotten to them.&uot;

None of the hospital workers were trained at extinguishing fires, unless you count the bi-weekly drills administered.

Barbara Dunn, director of the hospital’s public relation, was proud of her people. &uot;These are people that are very ‘take-charge.’ That’s one of the things that helps us deal with emergencies.&uot;

Blakes was probably the exception to the rule. Recently a member of the U.S. Army, he had received some fire fighting training.

The cause was unknown at the time of publication.

Selma Fire Department Battallion Chief Mike Stokes filed the fire report. He said, &uot;It’s going to be mechanical. I can’t tell you exactly what caused it yet.&uot;

Haynes’ officials had no idea either.

Spontaneously combusting ambulances are

pretty rare. &uot;I’ve been here for fifteen years and this is the first time I’ve seen a fire,&uot; said Caffey.

He was pleased with his drivers though. &uot;The patient was delivered safe and sound. We’re still open for business.&uot;