Deadly Mahdia fire: New York-based hospital to help survivors

…as regional leaders pledge support to Guyana

Support continues to pour in for Guyana and the victims of the deadly Mahdia Secondary School dormitory fire with President Dr Irfaan Ali announcing on Wednesday that assistance from the New York-based Cornell Hospital is imminent.

President Dr Irfaan Ali

The Head of State revealed during a national address on Wednesday morning that the New York-based hospital’s burn team will be providing assistance for the recovering survivors of Sunday night’s dreadful fire that took the lives of 19 young people.
“Today, I’m also very pleased to say that the Cornell Hospital burn team, through the support of Mount Sinai, is in contact with the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation and they would be sending in specialised supplies to support those who are healing,” Ali said.
He went on to say that “I’ve committed to these children and their families that whatever it takes, to those who require medical attention now, we will do it. I’ve committed to the families that we are going to be by their side, as a government and as a people, as long as it takes. We have this collective responsibility.”
Already, the Cuban Government has offered full medical support for those who require medical assistance.
Meanwhile, it has also been revealed that some of the survivors from the fire are to be flown to Barbados to receive medical treatment.

Antigua and Barbuda’s support
According to a report from Antigua News, Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne said on Tuesday that regional airline LIAT, which is currently doing limited commercial flights, has been instructed to transport the burn victims to Barbados.

New York-based Cornell Hospital

He noted that his government will foot the bill for the airlifts and collaborate with the airline’s court-appointed administrator to coordinate the logistics of getting the injured children to Barbados for specialised medical treatment.
In a statement to President Ali following Sunday’s deadly fire, PM Browne said this tragedy “…surely impel us all to act to bring calm and peace to those bereaved… My Government has also learned of the injured students whom the Guyanese authorities wish to fly to Barbados in order to provide them with specialised medical treatment. A burn unit is to be put to use in Barbados to the benefit of those children…”
Apart from the offer to treat the students there, the Mia Mottley-led Barbadian Government also deployed a team of DNA experts to Guyana on Tuesday to assist with the identification of the students who tragically perished in the fire. Their bodies were burnt beyond recognition.

Caricom leaders’ support
These efforts are in line with the overall support pledged by the Caribbean Community (Caricom) leaders to Guyana in the aftermath of the Mahdia fire.
In a statement from the Caricom Secretariat on Wednesday, the regional Heads of Government extended “…heartfelt condolences to all who have been affected, both directly and indirectly, by this horrific event. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Mahdia community and all of Guyana as you mourn the deaths of beloved relatives and friends. We also pray for the recovery of those children who are now under medical care.”
The Caricom leaders further applauded the bravery of personnel from the Guyanese fire, Police and medical teams, as well as public-spirited Guyanese, who responded and helped to save lives.
“The Conference of Heads of Government stands in solidarity with the Government and People of Guyana, and Member States have mobilised human and other resources to support the recovery process. We stand ready to offer additional support as needed,” the regional leaders pledged.
Thus far, the Guyana Police Force has confirmed that the fire was purposely set by an alleged angry student who retaliated after her mobile phone was confiscated by the dorm’s mother and a teacher.
The Police statement also confirmed that on the evening of the fire, there were 57 female students in the dormitory – a one-flat concrete building measuring about 100 feet by 40 feet, with several windows, all grilled, and five doors.
Apart from the 19 children who lost their lives, six were also admitted to the Georgetown Public Hospital. Two were intubated and are receiving ventilation support in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and one was rushed to the Operating Theatre (OT) to undergo limb-saving surgery. As of Tuesday, the count at the GPHC increased to nine.
The other three children, who were in less critical conditions, received assistance in the hospital’s Paediatric High Dependency Unit (HDU). According to the Guyana Fire Service, 14 youths died at the scene of the fire, while five died at the Mahdia District Hospital.