‘I felt terrified but the staff were fantastic’ – woman whose son was at Wexford hospital during fire
A woman whose 17-year-old son was in Wexford General Hospital when fire broke out on Wednesday has said she has been left “completely shaken” by the incident.
Sandra Allen’s son Jack, who has physical and learning disabilities, has since been transferred to St Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin, to continue his treatment.
He has been in hospital for the last six weeks.
Ms Allen revealed how her sister was in the hospital with their father after he had an accident in a local nursing home and she called to tell her there was a fire.
“At first I thought she meant my father was on fire, as in he had a really high temperature or something,” she said.
“But then she said, ‘No, the building is on fire.’ I’m not normally someone who panics but I felt terrified.
“I nearly broke my neck getting into the car. I was beeping at people and trying to get them out of the way so I could get there as fast as I could.”
Ms Allen rushed into the hospital to try to find Jack and check on him.
She praised staff at the hospital for how they handled a stressful situation.
“They were fantastic. They made sure everyone was kept up to date and did their best for everybody.
"They looked after us all and kept everyone calm. There was no real panic.
“There were three sets of guards I had to go through. When I got to the door of the hospital there was a security man there and he asked, ‘Did somebody call you?’ and my heart started to sink as I feared the worst.
“But he was just asking if someone from the hospital called to tell me about the fire. The main thing is that everyone was OK. I felt sorry for the women who were there to have babies.
“I heard of a woman who was 36 weeks along. It is her first baby and I felt so sorry for her as it’s frightening enough coming into the hospital to have a child for the first time without going through something like that.”
As the computer systems were down, she said it was difficult for doctors to know where their patients had been moved to.
Ms Allen said the conditions also made it difficult to find people.
“There was also smoke everywhere and it was stinging your eyes,” she told Newstalk’s Lunchtime Live.
She said her son was transferred from the hospital around 1am.
Jack’s father James Ward had been in the hospital with him earlier that day and left around 3pm, just before the fire broke out.
“I was actually in the hospital overnight as I was rushed to casualty on Tuesday. They released me about midday on Wednesday,” he said.
“I went up to the ward to see Jack and I was gone less than an hour when I got a call to say the hospital was on fire.
“Sandra was keeping me updated and thankfully everything was OK.
“Jack has cerebral palsy and is profoundly disabled and he has been in and out of hospital since 2019. What happened was the local school closed down and he refused to eat, so he ended up getting peg fed.
“He has spent the last while between Wexford and Temple Street Children’s Hospital in Dublin.”
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