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Breaking: Medical Dispatch From Springfield Tornado

This article is more than 8 years old.
Tornado damage in Springfield
Tornado damage in Springfield

It began as a rumor, around 5 p.m: a tornado had hit downtown Springfield, and one or more buildings had collapsed. Emergency plans went into effect: trauma bays readied, beds prepared. Because it was 5-ish, there were both outgoing and incoming shifts — an advantage when gathering staff. The Baystate emergency department is one of the busiest in the country at the best of times; “last night it was quite full,” Dr. Alouidor said.

The tornado patients began to arrive, with blunt-trauma injuries, shock, brain trauma, broken limbs, fractured spines, contusions and abdominal bleeding. Two needed surgery. One needed the Intensive Care Unit.

In all, of 25 total, seven needed to stay overnight. Five who were medically able to leave could not go home because their homes had been destroyed; they were referred to the Red Cross for help.

“Our trauma bays quickly filled up, and just as fast as the patients came in, we processed them,” Dr. Alouidor said.

The worst-injured remains in the ICU with a major liver laceration; she was in a building that collapsed.

This was Dr. Alouidor’s first mass casualty at Baystate, he said, but he is a Haitian citizen and helped out in Haiti after last year’s earthquake. He arrived a week after the earthquake, however, so it was a different sort of disaster situation. “The degree of emergency was much different than last night,” he said.

Today, patients continue to trickle in with minor injuries, he said. Among the sickest patients, none are in life-threatening situations, and of the seven still hospitalized, probably only three will require rehabilitation.

This program aired on June 2, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

Carey Goldberg Twitter Editor, CommonHealth
Carey Goldberg is the editor of WBUR's CommonHealth section.

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