[Mb-civic] Patients evacuated in massive airlift - Boston Globe
swiggard at comcast.net
Sun Sep 4 04:53:05 PDT 2005
Patients evacuated in massive airlift
La. airport used as field hospital
By Stephen Smith, Globe Staff | September 4, 2005
KENNER, La. -- A massive medical evacuation unparalleled in US history
has used armadas of military helicopters to pick up patients stranded by
Hurricane Katrina in flooded hospitals, in nursing homes, and on the
streets of New Orleans and to ferry them to a field hospital at the
Hundreds of patients, some gasping and trembling, were delivered to the
temporary, makeshift hospital in the arrival and departure terminals at
Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport in this suburb.
Medical personnel said patients were arriving faster than they could be
screened and transferred by air to beds available in the region, leaving
about 500 yesterday on canvas stretchers in waiting areas, concourses to
gates, and even on baggage carousels. One clutch of patients rested
under an advertisement that read, ''Looking for a hotel room?"
Disaster medical teams from around the country raced from one patient to
the next, attempting to assess and stabilize their conditions. The air
outside the airport filled with the thwack-thwack of helicopters.
Inside, pockets of air filled with the stench of illness.
Doctors and nurses, weary from 12-hour shifts, conceded that some
patients were so severely ill they would not leave the airport alive.
The medical director of the field hospital, Art French, a Coast Guard
doctor from Washington, D.C., estimated that as many as 50 patients had
died at the airport, many of them elderly with chronic medical conditions.
A morgue was established just down from the Delta and Continental ticket
''We have people dying in an airport terminal alone," said French.
''What a sad way to go."
French said about 1,000 patients had arrived each day since Wednesday,
for a total of about 4,000 through yesterday.
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