A young maintenance engineer, who raised the alarm and rescued staff, visitors and vulnerable patients from a fire at Burnley General Teaching Hospital, has been hailed a hero for his quick thinking action.
Twenty-five-year-old Nathan Cowburn discovered the blaze at the Lancashire Women and Newborn Centre on Monday, April 15th, when the building was at full capacity on a busy afternoon.
The fire was caused by a discarded cigarette and was quickly spreading up the outside of the building right next to the main entrance doors.
Realising that rapid action was necessary to prevent a potential tragedy, Nathan raised the alarm before grabbing a fire extinguisher and tackling the flames until the fire service arrived. And he has said he would do it all again if he had to.
Nathan said: “I was walking past on my way to a maintenance job.
“It was obvious this was a serious incident and there was smoke coming from the building. I activated the fire
alarm and informed estates management to ensure our contingency plans were activated to safeguard patients and staff.”
In addition to protecting lives, Nathan’s quick thinking earned him July’s Employee of the Month award from the, East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust (ELHT).
Operational Estates Manager Larry Cottey, who is Nathan's boss, said what he had done was 'commendable' saying: "Nathan literally put his own safety on the line to save lives.
"He helped us to avoid a disaster."
Throughout the dramatic evacuation of the building, smoke was spreading into the adjacent Central Birth Suite where several women were in labour, putting the women and their babies at risk.
Undeterred, Nathan continued fighting the fire and limiting its spread until the fire service arrived 10 minutes later when two fire crews took over.
Larry added: “Nathan’s actions stopped the fire spreading and ensured the birthing suite could continue to
operate without evacuation until the new babies had arrived and ensured minimal disruption to critical patient services.
“His actions also limited the damage to the building so that it could be returned to operation in a shorter timescale.”
Nathan, who lives in Lower Darwen and has worked at East Lancashire Hospitals for eight years, will now be shortlisted for the ELHT ‘Employee of the Year’ award to be presented at the Trust’s STAR Awards ceremony in spring, 2020.