It was around 8:50 am, when a student called up Dr Enam and told him about Rana Plaza, a building housing garment factories, collapsing. “I told him to come back to the college right away; I needed everyone to be ready for patients who would be coming in. Classes and exams were all cancelled, I asked all the on call and off duty doctors to join hands. The 14 operation theatres were prepared immediately. Pharmacies were asked to be prepared to give away medicine. In fact, no accounts were kept for the medicine that went out of the pharmacies.”
Being the nearest hospital for the rescued workers to be brought to, after Rana Plaza, a building housing at least 5 garment factories collapsed in Savar, the students, teachers, nurses and technicians of Enam Medical College Hospital, went all out of their ways to tend to victims. Enam Medical College Hospital was initially established as Enam Clinic, in the year 1989. It was later on in 2003 that the institution got Government permission to become Enam Medical College and Hospital. “The objective was to build a complete hospital, with international facilities and equipment,” says the Chairman, Dr Md Enamur Rahman. “As a college, we wanted it to be of top ranking quality. In fact, I believe we achieved it in the last few years. The Bangladesh College of Physicians and Surgeons, who control the post graduate studies and exams in medicine, have recognised our college as a teaching and training hospital. Post graduate students who need to train, can do so at Enam Medical College and Hospital.”
To date there are around 750 students studying at the college. Students from all over the country study here. “We have students from all over,” says Dr Enam, as he is known to all. “From Cox’s Bazaar, Bandarban, Tangail, Sylhet and many more. In fact, we also have students from India and Nepal studying in our college. Next year, we are going to have students from Maldives, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Malaysia studying here.”
Dr Enam explains as to how through international education fairs, foreign consultants have connected with Enam Medical College for students eager to apply here and study. “This is a residential medical college,” he says. “We have seats for around 900 students, and have around 500 for nurses.” Enam Medical College and Hospital is almost like a campus city, which makes it more appealing for students living afar.
“It takes a medical college at least 5 years to apply for the post graduate studies,” explains Dr Enam. “This is our fifth year and we have already applied to the health ministry. The authorities have given us a positive verbal commitment and very soon we will be starting our MS and MD degrees.”
Dr Enam describes the efficiency and speed with which the students of Enam Medical College and Hospital performed their duties. “The students were very swift and would reach for the patients to transfer them to OTs or give them the necessary medication. It was only on day 4 when four different technical teams came over to help us. With their help, we identified patients, with very serious and critical injuries, and sent them to the Kidney Hospital, Pongu Hospital and Dhaka Medical College Hospital.”
Proma Z Majumder, a second year student at Enam Medical College says that she was attending Biochecmistry class, when she heard of the incident that morning. “It took a while for the patients to be brought in,” she says. “By that time we were all ready. In the beginning, a handful of patients were rescued and brought to the hospital, but after a while ambulances were bringing in the rescues workers by the minute! That’s when we all realised that we would all have to be focused and do all we could to save them.”
According to Proma, the first and second year students were by the main gate, taking in patients on the trolleys and stretcher and directing them accordingly to the OT or elsewhere, depending on needs. “The first year and second year students know less of the clinical side, which is why we did things like transporting patients, bandaging wounds, managing bags of blood and writing reports in the OT. The third and fourth year students were taking care of the emergency cases, which were a whole lot, even beyond imagination. “We did our best to coordinate,” she says. “Every single teacher and student was out there to help. On day 1, we received more than 1500 patients, if I remember right.”
Currently, there are at least 77 more patients recovering at the Enam Medical College and Hospital. “They will need at least a month and a half to recover,” says Dr Enam. “On day 1, at least 70 lakhs worth of medicine were given to the patients, and 600 bags of blood were donated by the teachers and students of this institution. But from different parts of the country, a lot of medicine boxes, food, soaps, sandals and bags of blood were donated. Despite the fact that we put up signboards and also declared via the television news channels, that we were not in need of any more medicine, food or blood, the donations kept on coming. We later on gave away the leftover bags of blood to the Red Crescent blood bank.”
“Officials from the Prime Minister’s office came over to the hospital and asked me to send over a bill to cover the costs, to the PM’s Office,” explains Dr Enam. “However, I explained to them that it would be difficult to do so, since we never kept track of the medicine and treatment that were given to the patients. They finally asked us to provide them with a lump-sum amount.”
As this report is being filed, rescue missions continue at the Rana Plaza site, looking for the dead bodies of the trapped workers. To date, the death toll has crossed the 700 mark, and counting. Thanks to Enam Medical College Hospital, and all the clinics in the area, many of the rescued have survived and many are still recuperating. But no thanks to the illegally built structures, to the corrupt officials and forged documents, thousands more have probably lost their lives, simply because they were made to enter their work place, which was identified as hazardous just a day earlier.
It is now up to the younger generation of students to take up the positions of policy makers, decision makers, medical practitioners, scientists, society builders, and much more, to make Bangladesh a better place for the future. After all, it won’t be long, till we lose all our young talents to the world outside, if the authorities in Bangladesh do not think of providing them with a platform to flourish and grow.