Possible Medical Lessons from Katrina

Discussion in 'Survival Medicine' started by phishi, Nov 12, 2005.

  1. phishi

    phishi Psy-Ops Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    I recently read an article in Emergency Medical Services magazine, concerning Katrina and its aftermath. It documents in step by step format what happened each day. While the play by play was interesting, I found some personal interviews with medics on the ground more informing.

    One medic was at the Superdome. The scene was as unpleasant as you have undoubtedly heard. Power for the building was down to 20%, most of which was emergency lighting. No lights worked in the bathrooms, nor did the toilets. Other problems include heat, sewage, and the rationing of food & water. The population swelled to 25,000 people at its height, 600 of which have special needs for medical care (diabetics, asthmatics, etc.). This also becomes the defacto hospital as flood waters force the city's hospitals to close.

    To treat these patients they have the following: A lax command structure consisting of a medical director (doctor), someone from Homeland Security, a few nurses who were "totally unprepared for the events they would face", and some volunteer EMS personal who happened to be in town for a convention. For supplies they had a first aid room consisting of a bed and a couple of benches and four Advanced Life Support Bags. (Note, ALS bags are straight off an ambulance. They are made to hold just what you need to enter a home and start treating a patient. They are meant to be refilled between patients and are not to equipped for sustained use.)

    The worst case patients have been evaced before the storm hits. Most civilians who come early heed the advise of bringing 3-4 days worth of food and medical supplies. The problem is those that are brought after the storm often show without these supplies. Weather it is due to lack of foresight, or due to the way that they were rescued, is irrelevant. The aid station is expected to care for these people regardless, and it is overwhelmed.

    " "We had one guy with a fractured wrist we splinted with cardboard," Korzyk recalls. "A doctor showed up from somewhere, and we saw this one asthma-attack patient for a third time. The first time we almost had to intubate her, which would have been bad, because we had no vent or anything. By the third time she was in status asthmaticus, and the doctor said, 'When you're done treating her, just put her in a chair out in the hall. Whatever happens happens-we can't use all our resources on one person.' And she's crying, saying 'I don't want to die.'
    "We had addicts without their drugs, psychotic patients, homeless people-you name it. Some were telling us they had AIDS or hepatitis, but how many didn't tell us? How many didn't know? The garbage was piling up, the feces were piling up, the bathrooms were dark. There were a couple of gunshot wounds while I was there. One gunshot wound to the arm, one to the back of a policeman's head. One man who basically jumped to his death-split open his skull. Another guy was threatening to stick us with a needle." "-Nov 2005 EMS, pg 48-49.

    You can draw your own conclusions from this. And I want to hear them. As for mine, well, I think I would have to be pretty desperate before I would relocate to a shelter set up by the government, be it Fed, State, or Local. Second, I think that I will be expanding my personal first aid kit, probably by making lots of similar kits and stashing them in multiple places (home, both cars, camping gear, etc.). I don't want to be caught without a way to fix what ails me. Third, I think that no matter how bad a situation is, there is always someone that can make your day worse. I believe that we here are aware of that, and that we are determined not to let it happen.

  2. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Good post, food for thought. [winkthumb]

    One reason we are here (at least me) is to learn what we can do for ourselves in the way of preparation, a few things we can do to mitigate problems we might face, and ways to avoid getting into something like NO and the rest of the towns, large and small, that were hammered. Again, our choices are to go or to stay. Prep is different for both scenarios, and has (in my mind at least) to accomodate whichever of the two is the most prudent. Preparing for both is needed against the decision that most likely will be made at the last minute.
  3. CRC

    CRC Survivor of Tidal Waves | RIP 7-24-2015 Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Exactly ghrit...

    Living where I live, in Florida..my car is always packed and ready. And if need be, I have enough for more than a few days in it...way more.

    Should I decide to stay..(which is unlikely , having gone thru one CAT 5..but you never know what could happen) anyway..should I need to stay..different set of circumstances.
    I would not only have more in the way of food and water...but need to be prepared to defend my home...Living alone does not frighten me, or bother me... But throw me in cirucmstances like NO, and the rules go out the window. Reading phishi's post really made me think.

    We do need to be prepared for leaving , and for staying. I always think more about leaving...(they don't have to tell me to leave)
    I think it is time to stock up some more, at home. I'm ok with medical supplies for me and my daughter, and a few friends, if need be...Ok..a couple of close friends. I suppose I always thought along the lines of bugging out....not burrowing in. Living in hurricane country , that is just what I am always prepared to do...

    Time to rethink everything...

    Inventory time.

    Thanks y'all....
  4. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

    Good post phishi
  5. Bear

    Bear Monkey+++ Founding Member Iron Monkey

    Good Post Phishi... [winkthumb]
  6. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Yup, at least basic preps for the alternative you DONT plan on are a must. What if you plan to bug out but when the time comes you jump in the car and as you put it in gear the trani blows and no one else has room to take you? or you plan to stay (like I would for 99% of things) but a chemical truck dumps 100 yards from your door? While it makes sence to figure out which is most likely for your situation and prep mostly for that there always needs to be something set up for a plan B (and hopefuly C, D and E). One thing that can help as far as the med kit would be to have your general kit then supplement it heavily with what would 'work in a pinch', like a BIG box of gauze and a BIG box of sanitary napkins and a few kolls of duct tape, that can bandage a LOT of wounds anywhere from a scrape to massive trama. Add a few bottles of ibeuprophen for swelling, fever and pain, a few of imodium AD and other common OTCs and you have a superb ability to deal with anything the average person with little to no med training would be able to effectively deal with regardless if they had a full hospital at thier disposal and also the ability to treat the most likely things to occure in an emergency.
    RJB likes this.
  7. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    Old article about Katrina but it really drives home why you do not want to go into a shelter, especially if it is a disaster as big as Hurricane Katrina. Because we are prepared, most Monkey's would be evacuating with more then a few days food but after reading @phishi's post, I am determined to never go to a shelter.
  8. T. Riley

    T. Riley Monkey+++

    Excellent post. Best on I've read in a while. Where can I find the full article?
    Motomom34 likes this.
  9. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner Brewery Monkey Moderator

    A good reminder that in a crisis situation things will be rough at best...
    Motomom34 and chelloveck like this.
  10. Gator 45/70

    Gator 45/70 Monkey+++

    Always go west! 50/75 miles from the center and you should be OK, I would sleep in my truck before I go to a shelter, For 1 and 2 They search you and don't allow weapons or pets!
    Seawolf1090 and Dunerunner like this.
  11. john316

    john316 Monkey+++

  12. AxesAreBetter

    AxesAreBetter Monkey+++

    Katrina sucked. I think Gustav did more damage. but that is probably just because of how much lasting damage Katrina did to everything.
    Motomom34 likes this.
  13. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    Katrina took her sweet time coming to shore. I think it gave time for media build up so that all eyes were on the event, even Geraldo was there.

    I think that line in bold is what was the most eye-opening for me. We live in a society where resources seem unlimited and yet in time of emergency, reality sets in.
  14. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    "We live in a society where resources seem unlimited and yet in time of emergency, reality sets in." Resources only seem to be unlimited. A simple multi-unit apartment fire in even a large city will very quickly show the myth revealed.

    Some take-aways.

    I plan for my family. Nobody can do as well - as I know the people involved. I know what medical issues are - in advance. I know what food will be eaten, stress or not. I have food, fuel, water & water treatment resources to support shelter, heating and just plain living.

    Folks that have made themselves completely dependent on the Gov't for quite literally, everything, will just have to make do with what's on hand, do without or die. I have some empathy for the elderly, but care not a whit for the able-bodied that sat and demanded they be taken care of....

    The Gov't will always do, at best, a very poor job - at all levels. The Gov't, on a good day is at best, incompetent. Also, badly to never really prepared, ill-equipped, undermanned, if manned at all (dedicated employees) and whose employees are poorly paid, unmotivated and indifferent to the mass of the public they are paid to 'serve'.

    Not to harsh on Gov't employees, but 'the public' is loath to spend any money on a disaster that might happen. When the disaster does happen, the time to assess, gather supplies and respond is always chaotic. This is one reason I would never live on the Gulf Coast.

    Bottom line - nobody will take care of you like you can take care of you. BTW, the helping hand of the Lord is attached to the end of your own arm - use it.
    Motomom34 likes this.
  15. oil pan 4

    oil pan 4 Monkey+++

    Don't be disabled and live below sea level.
    john316 and Motomom34 like this.
  16. T. Riley

    T. Riley Monkey+++

    People often forget less than a month after Katrina another cat 3 hurricane, Rita, came right up the mouth of the Sabine River in Southeast Texas and Southwest Lousania. People (we) who were evacuated for Katrina did it again for Rita. The waste of federal money in the response was enormous. I was told FEMA was paying contractors $10 a square foot to nail blue tarps on the roofs of homes and businesses. That's $1,000 for a 10x10 tarp. After trees were sawed up and hauled away, FEMA would paint a price on the uprooted stump, some as high as $650, paid to whoever brought it to the land fill. Every household was given $2000 transferred to their bank account as long as their drivers license address was in the effected area. That was more than most minimum wage earners took home in two months so those workers did not return to work for months. Restraunts were only open a few hours because they could not get staff. It was a mess.
    Gator 45/70 and AxesAreBetter like this.
  17. arleigh

    arleigh Goophy monkey

    At work here in California , i asked a coworker what they thought about the event and the plainly said, " I don't care , it's not happening here and it's none of my business."
    I said," there are plenty of other things that can happen here , fires and earth quakes are not uncommon."
    But few that I questioned over the Katrina event had little or no interest. the same when the storms hit the north east and ruined the lives of so many as well .
    I think that it's the survivalists that have the more empathy for others and these events, those that don't care don't want to think about it, and don't prepare .
    Gator 45/70 likes this.
  18. Seawolf1090

    Seawolf1090 Retired Curmudgeonly IT Monkey Founding Member

    One big reason I drive a van. Actually my daily driver is a Grand Caravan I have camped in before, and an older Ford E150 I am building up as a BO capable campervan.
    My stock of LTS food, water and weapons is good, and lately I have been concentrating on medical needs.
    I have an EMS bag fully equipped, including minor surgery gear. Other bags have bulk quantities of bandages, tape, alkyhol, betadine, etc.
    Been increasing my knowledge of first aid and other minor medical things. If I find my group has a nurse or trained EMT, they will have more stuff to work with.
    Gator 45/70 likes this.
  19. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    The cheapest lesson is one where somebody else paid the toll.

    I carefully review records and reports for major disasters, worldwide, to see what free lessons I might glean from the misery of the unfortunate. My hope is to avoid or mitigate the same misery visited upon those poor souls. I've even picked up some really good tips & tricks along the way.

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