By Benjamin Flowers: For the first time in its history, the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital (KHMH), Belize’s national referral hospital came under a bomb threat.
KHMH Authority CEO Chandra Nisbet-Cansino said that she received a call around 8:30 that the building was under bomb threat and that the vicinity between the medical ward and pediatric ward.
“As far as I know, and as far as we’ve asked, this is the first time this has happened at the KHMH,” Nisbet-Cansino said.
She said that evacuations began almost immediately, beginning with patients who could move without assistance, and then moving to patients who are more severely ill and in need of assistance. Following the evacuation, the patients were outside in the sun, but the Lions Club opened its building in the neighboring yard, so the patients could get some reprieve from the heat.
Dr. Andre Sosa, Chairman of the Board of Governors at the KHMH said that the closest comparable event that needed evacuation was when the hospital had a partial collapse of the roof within the Radiology department, some years ago.
He said that, while a bomb threat was unexpected for a hospital, there are evacuation procedures in place for incidents like fire and hurricanes, so the staff did have some guidance in terms of how to respond.
“In true KHMH style it was all hands on deck; administrative staff helping to move patients, security staff, doctors nurses, the nursing students from UB as well they were all very quick in helping to evacuate all the patients,” Sosa said.
Police made arrangements to have experts sweep the building for explosives and the hospital authority awaits further guidance from law enforcement on when to bring the patients back inside.