TODAY   |  May 21, 2013

First responders ‘instrumental’ in rescue efforts

Dr. Nancy Snyderman, NBC’s chief medical editor, discusses the injuries and trauma that medical staff have been dealing with in storm-ravaged Oklahoma, saying “everyone is exhausted” and “psychologically traumatized.”

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> nancy snyderman , i got ahead of myself. you've been talking to some of the people involved in treating the injured. what are they seeing?

>> we talked to the head of the trauma unit at university of oklahoma and she underscored the first responders have really been instrumental in making sure so many people's lives were saved, primarily injuries, crush injuries, impalements which is awfully gruesome and major lacerations. probably 65 people hospitalized right now at the university, another 55 or so at one of the other hospitals but everyone's exhausted. i can hear it in their voices, the doctors, the nurses, the social workers , the emts, people are not only recovering from the tornado earlier in the week with in shawnee but this is a second sucker punch.

>> there's a variety of different hospitals around the area. in the early days it's hard to get a handle on how many are injured but what, based on the reporting you've been able to do, what are we talking about in general?

>> we've heard at least 140, probably closer to 200 and it's easy to underestimate the numbers because a lot of people are seen and discharged right away. what this city is good at is triaging people so the very severely injured were immediately taken to local trauma centers and those people who could be patched up and sent back home were. lot of people who could be patched up aren't even going back to homes. so the devastation, just the physical devastation here, people injured, psychologically traumatized, and then some cases they don't even have places to go home to.

>> i was wondering actually, those who are acutely injured and certainly get the help right away, i wondered if there were other people we read about the walking wounded , people walking around perhaps injuries that they don't recognize right away, something that a concussion, that kind of thing, are there any signs that people should just be looking out for along those lines?

>> memory loss, headache, confusion, beyond the norm, anybody like that, or pain that suddenly wasn't there before, that's when you go back to the hospital. lot of times these decisions have to be made in the moment and yes sometimes people can be discharged inappropriately. i think in this case what happened in oklahoma they have brought people into the hospital and at least observed them for 24 hours , then slowly let them go home. they intelligently jumped on this right away, and the one thing i think the doctors and nurses have to worry about now is their own psychiatric help and making sure they're there for each other, even the surgeon said they've been crying.

>> how could they not in the face of such devastation. dr. nancy snyderman thank you