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The Medical Aftermath of a Killer Tornado

ER Stories has a first-hand account of the destruction in Joplin, Missouri, when a tornado ripped the town apart on May 22nd. Dr. Kevin Kikta was on duty at the emergency department of St. John’s Regional Medical Center at the time.
“Like a bomb went off. ” That’s the only way that I can describe what we saw next. Patients were coming into the ED in droves. It was absolute, utter chaos. They were limping, bleeding, crying, terrified, with debris and glass sticking out of them, just thankful to be alive. The floor was covered with about 3 inches of water, there was no power, not even backup generators, rendering it completely dark and eerie in the ED. The frightening aroma of methane gas leaking from the broken gas lines permeated the air; we knew, but did not dare mention aloud, what that meant. I redoubled my pace.

We had to use flashlights to direct ourselves to the crying and wounded. Where did all the flashlights come from? I’ll never know, but immediately, and thankfully, my years of training in emergency procedures kicked in. There was no power, but our mental generators were up and running, and on high test adrenaline. We had no cell phone service in the first hour, so we were not even able to call for help and backup in the ED.

Dr. Kitka goes on to describe individual patients and their injuries, as well as the response from medical and emergency workers and others who pitched in to help. Link -via Monkeyfilter

(Image credit: Flickr user Mercy Health)

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