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Ward 8, GGH

Claire McCrae, Colette Campbell, Sandra McGeachy and John Mirrlees

Describing the day of drama when a patient’s life was saved by staff when a fire broke out in their room, senior charge nurse Claire McCrae said modestly: “I didn’t think that when I went into work that morning I would become a firefighter!”

Claire, deputy charge nurse Colette Campbell, and nursing auxiliaries John Mirrlees and Sandra McGeachy put their lives on the line when the blaze started in a room in gastroenterology, Ward 8C in Gartnavel General Hospital.

John reached the room first and the fire was already well established and the patient surrounded by flames.

Claire said: “The four of us got fire extinguishers and standing at the entrance to the room blasted away at the flames.

“After extinguishing the fire we entered the room and brought out the patient, who was understandably very distressed and transferred them onto a trolley for them to be taken to be assessed.

“It was only when you looked at the fire report and time sequence that you realised things happened very quickly, but for us it seemed like an age.”

Meanwhile other members of staff acted quickly to evacuate the 23 other patients on the ward.

Claire described their reaction as a mixture “of instinct and adrenalin” and went on: “We didn’t think at the time that we were doing anything brave, we just thought this is what we have to do.

“After all we are there to provide patient care and look after patients and this is what we had to do, look after our patients.”

However a Strathclyde Fire and Rescue officer was in no doubt about the risk the ward staff faced, telling Claire that he was “very impressed” at what they had done, not only putting the fire out and getting the patient out alive, but also evacuating the ward on their own.