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Medical Disaster Response: A Survival Guide for Hospitals in Mass Casualty Events

2009 Edition, May 22, 2009

Complete Document

Detail Summary

Active, Most Current

Additional Comments:
ISBN: 978-1-4200-6122-2
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Product Details:

  • Revision: 2009 Edition, May 22, 2009
  • Published Date: May 22, 2009
  • Status: Active, Most Current
  • Document Language: English
  • Published By: CRC Press (CRC)
  • Page Count: 866
  • ANSI Approved: No
  • DoD Adopted: No

Description / Abstract:


At the time of September 11th, 7 of my 17 years in the FDNY had been spent in lower Manhattan. I knew the buildings of the fi nancial district inside and out. That was my job as captain of Engine 6. I was not working on that morning, but as soon as I heard it was the World Trade Center I was on my way into the city.

All lines of communication had broken down. There was no electrical power, rendering our radios useless. For 48 hours I had no contact with a chief in the department. The chain of command had not just been broken, but completely dismantled. The situation we were dealing with had never been dealt with before. With no precedent to follow, I found myself reacting based solely on what I knew. Located only blocks away from the World Trade Center, our firehouse had countless runs there. Tower one was hit fi rst and I knew Engine 6 responded there. I knew where the rig was parked, I knew our men would enter and head to the fire command station on the left, and I knew which staircase they went up.

Dr. Bonvino, who I know as Dr. Bob, found himself in a similar state of disorganization. On September 12th doctors were allowed into the pit, but those who went hit many obstacles. Having met me briefl y on the occasions when Engine 6 got calls to the hospital, he used my name to get past the checkpoints. Years later he admitted to this, thinking that I would take off ense while it only deepened my respect for him. He fought his way there to help the survivors.

In those first days after the attack, we looked carefully at what we saw. There was not a piece of glass bigger than the size of a fi st. Every segment of steel was bent and distorted from the heat of the fires. The concrete was pulverized into inches of dust that coated every surface; no survivors would be found. Dr. Bob's medical skills could not be used and he looked for other ways to contribute. He helped to raise tens of thousands of dollars for the widows and children of those who died. He supported Engine 6 in countless ways, perhaps the most inspiring one being the small Engine 6 pin he consistently wears on his lapel. This book is another result of his never tiring search to help in all ways he can.

That first week following the attack on the Trade Center, I was very much reacting to only the overwhelming circumstances I was facing. Looking back and analyzing my actions and the actions of other commanders in the fi re department, it becomes clear that what we accomplished was possible because of protocol put in place years before. In other words, it was the emergency procedures and training the department established before September 11th that helped us get through it.

I am writing this in January 2009, within a week of the "Miracle on the Hudson," when U.S. Airways Flight 1549 was forced to crash land into the freezing waters of the Hudson River. If the story of Pilot Sullenberger isn't a testament to the value of an individual being prepared for a disaster, I am not sure what is. His training and background made him the perfect person to be fl ying that plane and he saved 153 lives.

Imagine if all institutions responsible for protecting lives allocated resources for preparation in the event of a disaster. We cannot predict days like September 11th, but we can be equipped to deal with them. This book shows the steps that hospitals need to take toward reaching that goal.

After 9/11 there was a rush of people from every corner of the city to lower Manhattan. Immediately following 9/11 I came across people who lent support, supplies, and time. However, months after, there was a disheartening number of people who took advantage of the sorrow.

No good came out of what happened that day. Good people who were good before stepped up and did great things. Dr. Bob was one of those people. We were lucky enough to cross each other's paths and we worked together to make sure the fi rehouse and hospital sharing the corner of Beekman and Gold Streets remained functional.

It is a credit to both Dr. Bonvino and Dr. Goldschmitt, as well as to the other contributing authors of this book, that they took the time and the eff ort to better prepare people confronted with a disaster situation. My hope for this book is that their expertise in dealing with disaster situations will reach much farther than the corner of Beekman and Gold, to hospitals across the nation, in small towns and urban cities. If we ever need to be reminded why disaster planning is necessary, we need to simply remember a very clear, crisp September morning in 2001.