A nursing assistant at the Kalamassery Medical College Hospital in Ernakulam was trapped inside the hospital elevator for almost half-an-hour while she was still in her Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) suit. Waiting for other hospital personnel to rescue her, the nursing assistant fainted inside the lift.
The nursing assistant was on duty at the coronavirus isolation ward. The incident happened around 3.35 pm on Wednesday. Later, other staff members told her that she was brought to the casualty ward around 4.20 pm. The nursing assistant was shifting an ECHO machine from the ward to the operation theatre.
"It is a small lift that can hold four people. There was a tea trolley (meant for patients) inside the lift and an ECHO machine. As soon as the lift started descending, it got stuck and the lights switched off. I was wearing a PPE kit. I had four layers of gloves on my hands. It was not easy to even find the alarm button and somehow I pressed the emergency alarm many times," she recounted to various TV channels.
The nurse said she remembered sweating a lot and that she kept pressing the emergency button. She could, however, not recall anything after the initial few minutes as she had lost consciousness. â€śI knew that I was draining out. I was sweating. Until I lost my consciousness, I kept on pressing the button,â€ť she told journalist Asha Javed of Manorama News.
Since she was in her PPE kit, she did not have a mobile phone with her. The nurse regained consciousness by 6 pm.
A source in the hospital told TNM that ever since the isolation ward was set up, there was no lift attender for the block as it would be impossible for an attender to stay in a PPE suit the entire day. â€śThis, we assume, is the case in most hospitals. We canâ€™t have lift attenders in these blocks. As soon as the woman sounded the emergency alarm, the attender from the next block ran to check. However, he had to wear a PPE suit as it is protocol. This took a few minutes and then the lift was opened,â€ť the source said.
According to the hospital, CCTV camera footage showed that the woman went inside the lift at around 3.37 pm and was rescued by 4.03 pm.
A few reports by Malayalam channels, however, said that she had been stuck for more than 45 minutes.
After being rescued, the woman was admitted to the hospitalâ€™s casualty ward on Wednesday. Though she went home the same night, by Thursday, she was back at hospital as she was feeling unwell. The woman is currently in hospital and under observation.