Thursday, September 15, 2005

From Don Chandler, UHMS, re Hurricane Katrina

To all--

Several of you have sent reports of what you have observed as our country recovers from the tragic and deadly Hurricane Katrina. For the past few days I have been trying to get our major news media (NBC, CBS, ABC, Reuters, AP) to help us inform people with warning messages about the dangers of using internal combustion engines in enclosed spaces...but have had no response as yet.

Dr. Neil Hampson, our Immediate Past President has also been busy with this potentially deadly topic. He is working very closely with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and this emerging problem. The number of cases of CO poisoning is growing...people just aren't paying attention to warning labels or even verbal warnings when they are using portable electric generators, power washers, and other such devices (see some of the notes below) as they restore and/or clean their damaged homes and businesses.
Dr. Hampson's emeil address is

I heard directly from Jake Jacoby (mentioned in an earlier update) who was with a DMAT in New Orleans and rather than try to summarize his news, I will paste his entire email below:
Hi, Don, just about everything you wrote is correct. although we had fewer than 30 in our morgue. There was indeed one patient with an alligator bite, down to bone, on a leg, which was 3 days old, and infected.
As commander of the CA-4 DMAT, we were sent in to the Airport, arrived at 0300 on Wednesday, Aug 31st, set up a Base of Operations in Concourse D at the airport. The torrent of patients being evacuated from the hospitals (bumper-to-bumper row of ambulances most of the first two days, intercalated with bumper-to bumper rows of busses disgorging patients), merged with another torrent of evacuees being rescued off roofs, "lily pads", parks and all sorts of congregating areas, all starting at 1100 hours on Aug 31st, previously patients had been picked up from the triage site at the I-10 site where it went under water, near the 610 junction, and were airlifted to LSU in Baton Rouge, but that was a much longer trip and consumed lots more aviation fuel, so the switch to the airport was both more efficient and saved fuel); ), At peaks, rotorcraft landed every minute or less and up to 45 per hour, all sizes, shapes and agencies .. including one seen from the Singapore AF), ....Thanks to the US Air Force which showed up ( two medevac units,) and began taking the patients by the planeload, as many as one aircraft per hour at the peak) we ( initially three full DMATs: CA-4, TX-4 and WA-1, with some strike teams from TX-1, TN-1, HI-1 [ a strike team is an augmenting unit of 5 to 9 personnel to augment in areas of need] augmented after 24 hours by OR-2, FL-3, and PA-3, plus another half a dozen DMAT strike teams, were able to clear the terminal (* both upstairs and downstairs) . At one point, we had documented over 800 patients , half on litters, rest in wheelchairs and on foot, on the floors covering both upstairs and downstairs in Concourse D.
The NDMS/DMAT Base of Operations was a classical full spread, including immediate, delayed and walking wounded tents, plus an expectant area, morgue, Command tent, Logistics supply area and Pharmacy caches. Team members slept on baggage claim areas, on carousels and anywhere there was room, shared with many Federal police, National Guard, and military, including 4,000 members of the 82nd Airborne.
There are two DMORTs with DPMUs ( Deployable Morgue Units) in the areas. All DMATs in the system were activated and are being used, and back up lists of additional members are also being utilized, we still have ten members in the field augmenting other operations.
Thanks are due to the many employers of our team members, who enabled us to field a team and pre-stage it as early as Monday, Aug 29th, (day of storm), so that we were already somewhat close to the area (Houston, and en route to Baton Rouge) when the levees broke.

Jake Jacoby, MD
Other news from our members include:

1. Caroline Fife has an urgent need for HBOT physician help. She is offering a 9-month faculty appointment (October - June) at the University of Texas, Houston. If you are interested, please contact her at 713-704-5900 or 713-305-2971. You can also email her at Also, Caroline has offered a place to stay for any Katrina-displaced hyperbaric staff who has a tolerance for teenagers.

2. Shane McKinnon informs us that Keith VanMeter " doing very well spreading good cheer and selflessly helping others in need." Shane said that Keith was in excellent care while riding with he and others from the 1st Battalion 20th Special Forces Group and now that they have departed they turned his well being over to the 82nd Airborne. I must say that surely he still is in good hands.

3. Julio Garcia, CHT, RN is the Center Director at the Springhill Medical Center for Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine in Mobile, AL. He reports that they have treated 24 post-Katrina cases of CO poisoning with ages ranging from 22 days old to 70 years. Clearly, the CO poisoning problem is growing.

4. Cheree' Wiggins, RN, the Clinical Nurse Manager of the Hyperbaric Unit at West Jefferson Medical Center in Marrero, LA reports they have treated 10 post-Katrina cases of CO poisoning. We had earlier heard of four it's ten. There will be more.

5. Marc R. Kaiser, President and CEO of Hyperbaric Medical Services, Inc. in Boca Raton FL reports they have treated 7 people, including 4 children, for CO poisoning. One was a family of four (mother, father, and 18 month old twins); the second family was a father and two children under 9 years. These cases were treated at the Hyperbaric & Problem Wound Center at Mercy Hospital located in Miami, Florida. These cases may not have been due to recovery efforts from Katrina (being they were in Miami) but the report does lend credence to the high danger of CO poisoning regardless of the weather conditions. By the way, Marc said he had a Reneau chamber that they just took out of service and is willing to discuss shipping it to the gulf region to assist if needed. If any of you need the Reneau telephone Marc at (305) 854-0300 or email him at:

6. Connie Witz, RN, CHRN who is the Hyperbaric Supervisor at the Terrebonne General Medical Center in Houma, LA reports that they have treated two cases of CO poisoning (four were in the house, using a generator in the garage), another case was sent to another facility, and there was one fatality. Their Emergency Department has also seen some exposures but levels were very low and symptoms were mild. Need we say more about the dangers of misuse of gasoline fired portable equipment?

7. Another generous offer of assistance from one of our neighbors to the north. Ian Clapperton is an Associate Member and is willing to do whatever anyone can think of for him to do from Canada (Almonte, Ontario). Just let him know. Tel: (613) 256-6726. Cell: (613) 558-1047. Email:

That's all for now. Keep the news coming in and we'll keep posting it.