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Treating the Injured From the Pentagon Attack

At least 90 people were injured in the attack on the Pentagon and many were taken to the burn unit at the Washington Hospital Center. Barbara Brown, a flight paramedic, and Dr. Marion Jordan, director of the burn unit, described the situation on Tuesday to the Early Show.

"At that early stage, because we were looking at maybe 40 minutes after the impact actually happened, a lot of the most critical people who couldn’t get out were still in the Pentagon," said Barbara Brown. "So a lot of people who were running around the site and fleeing from the Pentagon had burn injuries, minor burn injuries, but they were at least able to get out. [There was also] a lot of smoke inhalation, heated gas inhalation injuries, which over time, in that kind of time frame, can precipitate to a critical patient. And that's what we actually ended up with about 30 minutes later."

"We received initially six patients among three or so helicopters and one ground unit," said Dr. Jordan. "Within a matter of 45 minutes to an hour, we had them assessed for basic injuries. We had determined that most had smoke inhalation and had secured airways with intubation tubes and had actually moved them out of our receiving unit on into the intensive care unit."

Jane Clayson then asked about reports that while some burn patients came in screaming, others came in and weren't saying anything, meaning that they were in extreme shock, which said more about their emotional state as much as it did about their physical condition.

"I think that's a fair assessment," said Dr. Jordan. "The other thing, though, is that with today's emergency medical systems and the responses and the trained people that we have, they have the wherewithal to begin to administer narcotic pain medication before the patient actually arrives to us."

Dr. Jordan also described President's Bush's visit to the hospital. "The president and first lady came by, went to our burn intensive care unit, and then to our burn intermediate care unit--visited every room. There was an incredible amount of human and personal embracing that the two of them did to each of these patients where appropriate and we had most of the patients awake and alert. If the patient was responding and was able to come up with any kind of an indication that they were doing well or a smile--a light-hearted comment. The families were all given reassurance by them and then the staff."
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