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America under Attack: Paramedics Give First Account of What They Are Up Against

Aired September 12, 2001 - 08:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAUN, CNN ANCHOR: We are going to head over to St. Vincent's Hospital where the paramedics there are holding a news conference on the status of their operations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... also got more information, our hospitals in the systems, St. Vincent's Catholic Medical Centers in the outer burrows, received 65 patients in total and the one fatality that I spoke to about before.

I have Dr. Jesse Bloomenthaw (ph), the head of trauma (ph).

Just to bring you up to date on some of the things we've been seeing overnight in the emergency room.

And then we have two of our paramedics, Tony Swarez (ph) and Phil -- I'm going to let Phil pronounce has last name. We'll give you those spellings if you need them later.

We -- these two gentlemen were on scene from 9:00 a.m. yesterday until last night. They can tell you a little bit about their experiences as paramedics at the scene, and then we will open for questions.

Sure.

QUESTION: Tell us about the possible survivors and possible (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have heard some reports that there were survivors taken out of the building within the last hour. We were actually -- did receive a call from EMS that we should be prepared. But later reports have told us that -- if there are anybody that needs hospitalization, we may not be receiving them.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Bellevue?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Possibly Bellevue would be one possible scenario, yes.

OK, doctor, just a little bit about what we saw (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

DR. JESSE BLOOMENTHAW (ph), ST. VINCENT'S HOSPITAL: Well, as we -- unfortunately, we wish we had more patients to treat that came in overnight because, again, there was difficulty in getting to the scene. And I think the paramedic will describe that. But we have been busy taking care of the patients that we did receive.

The three of the severe burns were transferred to the Cornell Burn Center. We have automatic transfer agreements between the hospitals, and again, taking care of severe burns is a tremendous logistical strain.

We have other lesser burns which we're caring for. We are in the process of actually visiting, getting data on all of the patients that were admitted. An additional two patients went to the operating room last night because of the fractures, soft tissue injury, lacerations and the like.

We are in the process, obviously, of reviewing all of the patients, and if any -- a couple of patients will probably be ready for discharge.

But I think the staff as unfortunately was anticipating and hoping that we would receive survivors during the night, and I think everyone was very disappointed that we did not.

Again, everyone is in a high state of preparedness. We continue to have calls of volunteers throughout the night, and even this morning, and at least we were able to thank them and record this and tell them that we really had enough staff. But, again, even the community responding with food was very gratifying to all the staff that was up most of the night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to have our paramedics come in and just tell you a little bit about their experiences, and then we will take questions.

UNIDENTIFIED PARAMEDIC: Hi, paramedic Eguigru (ph).

Paramedic Eguigru. The initial site was just horrible. I am just wishing well for everybody that's down there, all my colleagues, everybody else that is giving help.

Like I said, it's just a horrible site, it's a horrible day. And I wish everybody well, and we are here to do whatever -- as much as we can.

TONY SWAREZ, PARAMEDIC: All right, paramedic Tony Swarez, St. Vincent's.

Initially, I was there for about 15 minutes, there were a couple of explosions, it became dangerous; we grabbed one person, we commandeered an ambulance and just high-tailed it out of there.

My prayers are to the fellow firefighters, the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) police officers that have died, and hopefully, we'll be able to get more down -- I mean, some more out of there.

We were unable to get to the scene simply because it was very unsafe. So, please, if you can, everybody, please pray for those that have fallen today.

QUESTION: Can you be specific of what you saw?

SWAREZ: I was only at the scene for a while, but it was unsafe, and basically I saw -- heard one explosion and basically just high- tailed it out of there. It was very unsafe for anybody, and that's the only thing that I saw. I mean, I had one patient, we grabbed her, put her in the ambulance, she was full of soot, she was covered from head to toe with ashes, and basically dropped her off to a site and then back to the command center.

EGUIGRU: I think if it wasn't for the first patient I took out, Jenny, who we took to Cornell, I probably wouldn't be here right now. She was just covered in second, third-degree burns and we just got her out of there. And I hope that she is doing well.

QUESTION: Sir, could you explain a little bit about what paramedics do in terms of stopping every 45 minutes or so to listen and how they proceed?

EGUIGRU: I don't understand the question.

QUESTION: One of the doctors here was saying that you stop or so every 45 minutes to check and see if you hear anything new to try to find out if there could be anybody in the rubble.

EGUIGRU: Well, we are just listening to the radios -- I mean, we're just listening -- at the scene right now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Listening for sounds inside.

EGUIGRU: Yes, they're listening for sounds. We're not there right now but I understand they're just listening to make sure there's anybody caught in any type of voids, any pockets, if they are alive, if they hear any sound. That's what they are doing right now. Excuse me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any other questions?

QUESTION: Can we get a spelling.

EGUIGRU: Eguigru? E-g-u-i-g-r-u...

ZAUN: All right, you have just heard some of the first accounts coming from paramedics describing what they were up against treating many of those injured in the twin attacks here in New York City yesterday. One of the paramedics describing the scene as just horrible. One of the administrators at St. Vincent's Hospital, which is one of the area hospitals where a large number of the victims were taken, describing the level of support the hospital is getting from volunteers in the area. I think that level of support has been repeated elsewhere in the city.

I was on the phone yesterday with a couple of hospitals confirming the fact that they couldn't even handle the number of people that had come to the hospital to donate blood. There is still a dire need of blood in New York City to treat these victims.

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