Savannah Refinery Explosion: How Augusta is Responding

News 12 at 11, February 8, 2008

AUGUSTA, Ga -- It's a major disaster for Savannah and a major response in Augusta.

For more than 24 hours now, crews at the Burn Center at Doctors Hospital have been busy; starting with the major challenge of just getting these severely injured people here for treatment.

Dr. Fred Mullins got the first phone call around 8 o'clock Thursday night. This was not a drill, but a full blown disaster. He took a team to Savannah, sized up the injuries and had the first patients arriving at Doctors Hospital just an hour later.

"The majority of the patients have facial, trunk, upper extremity, and then larger burns there's about eight patients that have sixty percent plus burns and they include their legs." Dr. Mullins said when addressing the media at a news conference on Friday.

Tanya Simpson is an Assistant Vice President of burn services. "Today we've got about 35 nurses in the unit, to O.R. teams are all here, and we're working very hard to manage the patients pain, prepare them for the operating room, and to deal with the family needs because it's a traumatic time in these families lives."

You never really know how you will respond in the face of a disaster on this large of a scale.

The president of Doctors Hospital, Shane George, says from the first responders on it's a textbook example of round the clock cooperation. "We've actually been working all through the night to take care of the patients, to transport the patients here to Doctors Hospital's Joseph M. Still Burn Center. We're extremely proud of the coordination that took place to get these patients the emergency medical treatment that they needed after this disaster."

And getting those burn patients here was just the beginning. Today the O.R. was going non-stop with a dozen different surgeries before the sun set and plans to do six more before they're finished.

And these operations and the recovery process for these victims, could be months, even years in the making.

Dr. Mullins says this is only the beginning of a long journey for these people. The reality is that several victims may loose limbs and they face operation after operation, but Dr. Mullins adds the goal is to get everyone of these patients back home.

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