Indonesian caregiver saves Taiwanese 'grandma' from Taipei Hospital fire

Indonesian caregiver carries Taiwanese 'grandma' from bed to wheelchair and to safety during Taipei Hospital fire

  1539
Indonesian caregiver Supraph.

Indonesian caregiver Supraph. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- An Indonesian caregiver bravely risked her life to save the Taiwanese "grandma" under her care after a fire broke out yesterday morning at a senior care facility inside the Taipei Hospital.

The fire, which broke out on the seventh floor of the Taipei Hospital in New Taipei's Xinzhuang District killing nine and injured 16 early yesterday morning, is believed to have been caused by an electrical short circuit.

When the ward burst into flames, the Indonesian caregiver identified as “Supraph” immediately carried her elderly patient, who she referred to as "Grandma" (阿嬤), to her a wheelchair, and rescued her from the flames. She then worked with fellow caregivers to rescue other patients. After the ordeal, Supraph said, "I was not afraid at the time and wanted to save grandma quickly."

The family of the elderly woman, who is surnamed Hsieh (謝), continually thanked Supraph for her for saving the woman.

In an interview with CNA, Supraph said she had worked in Taiwan for nine years and had been taking care of the elderly woman for the past seven months. Although there are 32 patients in the nursing home, there are only two staff members and one nurse on duty in the evening, which she said was not enough.

After changing Hsieh's diaper at around 3 a.m., Supraph heard a strange noise coming from the other side of the door. She found smoke spewing from the ward on the other side of the nursing station.

She quickly rushed back to the room, lifted Hsieh out of her bed, the air mattress of which was already on fire. Hsieh quickly placed her in a wheelchair and whisked her out of the inferno, before calling her family members to tell them to say, "There was a fire here, but Grandma is OK."

Supraph said that there are about eight patients in the hospital who employ foreign caregivers. These caregivers helped the staff members rescue patients when the fire broke out, said Supraph, adding "Without the foreign caregivers, there would could have been even more casualties."

A volunteer in the hospital surnamed Hsu (許) said the patients in the nursing home needed complete care, including intubated patients, but the number of staff members is insufficient, and relatives are not allowed to stay overnight. She said that the foreign caregivers were providing the most direct care for the patients and that is why they were able to save them when the fire broke out.

According to statistics from the New Taipei Fire Department, the fire resulted in nine deaths and 16 injured. The fire was the second most deadly in a medical institution after a fire in nursing home in Tainan's Sinying Hospital claimed 13 lives.