Aftershock In Pakistan

<b>Bob Simon</b> Reports On NYC Paramedics Saving Lives In Disaster Zone


Nick Lobel-Weiss works at New York's Roosevelt Hospital and was instrumental in putting together this group of beautiful and cooperative people.

Asked what inspired him and his group to travel to Pakistan and work under these difficult conditions, Lobel-Weiss says, "I think health care. Health care workers want to help people."

Why did the group of 13 come to Pakistan, despite the fact they had no connection to the country and had never been there before?

"Maybe we're New Yorkers and we don't want to take no for an answer," says Lobel-Weiss.

Word of where they were and what they were doing was getting out, not only to Pakistanis needing care, but to relief organizations. Several sent people to help, so the New Yorkers decided it was time to move further on, to places where help had not arrived.

The only way to go was by mule train, laden with supplies the paramedics had begged, borrowed and pilfered from every stockpile they had passed.

60 Minutes joined them on the trek, going further up the valley into an area which has been forbidden to foreigners for the last 50 years. It is, in fact, a war zone, a rugged region close to the contested border between Pakistan and India.

There were occasional remnants of a road, where it hadn't collapsed into the ravines, where it hadn't been buried by landslides. But you couldn't get anywhere on this road. At least not in a vehicle. The fault line seemed to be everywhere.

The first town on the way was Chinari. There are survivors in the town but little else is left of Chinari except a post office box.

More than 10,000 people perished around here, many of them children who were crushed when their schools collapsed. Many of the dead children are still buried underneath the rubble.

With every step, there was another tale of tragedy, stories of entire families wiped out.

"I lost about 25 members of my family in my 12 homes," a local man told the group. "And the same story is everywhere."

"I mean, I don't know what kind of smoke signal needs to go up to know that this village is devastated," says Lobel-Weiss.

"Smoke signals" are being picked up in other parts of the country.

The U.S. military has sent in badly needed helicopters. It has set up a MASH unit in the worst-hit city, and brought in Seabees to help in reconstruction.

The U.S. is doing more than any other country, and freely admits it is being active, at least in part, for strategic reasons, to combat anti-Americanism in a Muslim nation.

And, as it learned in Indonesia, when the U.S. military went in after the tsunami, nothing does this as well as helping people after a disaster.

This is not why the New York medics came here, of course. They didn't come to win hearts and minds, but to save lives. Hearts and minds just seemed to follow, and that's fine with Dr. Steve Muth.

"We can inoculate an entire valley, if we're lucky, against radical Islam," says Muth. "And it's so simple. I'm just a paramedic. It's just a bandage. It's not a $100 million dollar ad campaign from Madison Avenue. It's not, you know, it's not complicated. Could something work better to change somebody's mind? I can't think of anything."

The mule train took them to a place called Kahtay, to their new clinic in another field of rubble. It was now three weeks since the earthquake and they were the first help to arrive.

They went to work right away, treating wounds, infections, gangrene, dysentery and pneumonia. There's already lots of pneumonia and there will be a lot more now that winter's coming.

There wasn't always a translator, so they all had to find other ways to communicate.

"One guy came up to me yesterday," Summers recalls, "and was holding out his hands like this. And I'm looking. I'm like, 'Oh does he want treatment?' And he was signalling me to put my hands out and he said, 'We have five fingers, five fingers, arm, arm, elbow, elbow. We're the same.' And then he shook my hand. You know?"