Intended for healthcare professionals


The casualties that never arrived

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: (Published 22 September 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:654
  1. Scott Gottlieb

    a resident in internal medicine at the Mount Sinai Hospital, New York, situated about 110 blocks from the World Trade Center, describes how he and his colleagues treated the casualties from last week's terrorist attack

    We were watching the monstrous attacks unfold on television, when we saw the spectral image of the World Trade Center's south tower collapsing. We were stunned. We had watched in horror as the second airliner crashed into the south tower on live television. But none of us thought that the building could fall down.

    Minutes later, our pagers went off. We were told that residents should report to the hospital for an emergency mobilisation. When we arrived at a tense planning meeting, we were split into small teams, so we could triage non-critical patients at the door, moving them upstairs quickly to alleviate the burden in the emergency room. Any patients well enough to be discharged were released to make room for the incoming wounded. Intensive care beds were opened up and elective surgeries postponed. Many of us were scared, anticipating gruesome injuries we had never been trained to handle. Someone …

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