Oh, I remember the night of the derailment really well. I’ll never forget it. I was off that night, out for dinner with my family. Heard the boom and the word spread through the Pizza Hut about what had happened pretty quickly. I kept expecting a call telling me to come in to the hospital, but none ever came. After maybe ten minutes of that, I figured I’d better just come in on my own. It was pretty clear there were going to be a lot of people moving through the hospital.
I guess that was a little bit of a failure, but it’s nothing compared to what I saw when I showed up at the hospital. I just hustled into the ER and started helping out. It wasn’t clear who was in charge, and nobody was making any decisions. People just started piling in with burn wounds, smoke inhalation, blunt trauma from the explosion, you name it. And we were just dealing with them first-come, first serve, more or less. Just working our way through the room while people kept coming in and piling up. I knew that this wasn’t the right way to be doing this – heck, we all knew – but the room was too chaotic for anyone to take a second and say “stop” and impose some kind of systematic approach. I don’t know for sure if any lives were lost because of the muddle, but I know people with some very serious injuries suffered a lot longer than they needed to while we were treating people with minor sprains and contusions who’d just happened to get to the ER a little earlier.
Hope this helps!